Kaladin, A Great Reminder in Times of Hopelessness

"Everything seemed to go wrong when you lost that leaf," Syl said in a soft voice. "Before that, you fought." 
"I failed." 
She cowered down, kneeling on his palm, misty skirt around her legs, drops of rainwater passing through her and rippling her form. "You don't like it then? I flew so far...I almost forgot myself. But I came back. I came back, Kaladin." "
Why?" he pled, "Why do you care?" 
"Because I do," she said, cocking her head. "I watched you, you know. Back in that army. You'd always find the young, untrained men and protect them, even though it put you into danger. I can remember. Just barely, but I do." "
I failed them. They're dead now." 
"They would have died more quickly without you. You made it so they had a family in the army. I remember their gratitude. It's what drew me in the first place. You helped them. " 
"No," he said, clutching the blackbane in his finger. "Everything I touch withers and dies." He teetered on the ledge. Thumber rumbled in the distance. 
"Those men in the bridge crew," Syl whispered. "You could help them." 
"Too late." He closed his eyes thinking of the dead boy earlier in the day. "It's too late. I've failed. They're dead. They're all going to die, and there's no way out." 
"What is one more try, then?" Her voice was soft, yet somehow stronger than the storm. "What could it hurt?" 
He paused. 
"You can't fail this time, Kaladin. You've said it. They're all going to die anyway." 
- p188-p189, The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

There have been a few characters I have had a personal connection with, Gloria from Modern Family (minus the hot part), but I have never felt such a connection with Kaladin’s story in Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, Book 1 of The Stormlight Archives.

Here you see in the earlier chapters, a darkeyed* young man of much vigour, tenacity, and leadership. Someone who cares and, possibly, someone who cares too much. Someone who is hopeful, a why for living before it all came crashing down. Without spoiling too much, he went from a revered hero to less than a slave and from the excerpt above, he even contemplated taking his own life.

*Darkeyes are considered to be lesser than Lighteyes in The Stormlight Archive world. Unfortunately, it seems like I, born with both dark eyes, tanned skin and of Southeast Asian descent, also am highly discriminated against in that world. Haha.

Have you experienced anything that made you think, “There is no way on God’s green earth will I be able to recover from this”?

Through one’s own preferred filter, an event can be devastatingly heartbreaking or something you can brush off. When my grandmother died almost three years ago, I cried and regretted the fact that I didn’t message her more often or that the trip to visit her that I planned for that year was thwarted. I cursed the timing as we were both looking for it. You see, I had planned to take her around the city and enjoy the seaside and such because she has been pretty much under house arrest due to a broken hip that occurred a year prior. It occurred to me that the last time I visited her was the last time I will have seen her, hugged her, and celebrated her birthday with her.

However, my grandmother’s death didn’t keep me sad for so long as the next day, I went back to work like nothing happened. I didn’t take any bereavement leave or any of those things as there were things to do.

It was a different story when I had my first breakup.

I took a week off, wrote sad articles and was paralysed for a good nine months. The pain, the disappointment, and the hopelessness that I felt were potent enough that there were thoughts of either self-harm or giving up and handing over my life card and signing off yelling, “I quit, I don’t want to be alive anymore”. Every waking day was a mental battle with the call of the void on the other side and my hopeful self on the opposite.

I don’t know if I won the war but I know that l sometimes lose and sometimes win the battle and having read the exchange between Kaladin and Syl, a windspren, invigorated me. If I frame it in such a way that in the end, I’m going to die, “What is one more try? What could it hurt?”

Finally, there is one last thing that stuck with me from the first 350 pages besides that exchange between Syl and Kaladin and Gavilar’s code and Dalinar’s pain, it is what happened shortly after Kaladin decided to try again.

He reached back across time, studying the man he had been. The man who'd still fought, and fought well. 

He couldn't be that man again- he couldn't erase the scars- but he could learn from that man as a new squadleader learned from the victorious generals of the past. Kaladin Stormblessed was dead, but Kaladin Bridgmean was of the same blood. 

A descendant with potential. 
p192, The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson 

I don’t know about you but this metamorphosis, which was written rather briefly but poignantly, spoke to me. This is what I was looking for – what can I do with those wasted two years and those wasted months in recovery? The last excerpt was the answer to my longing for what I revered as the good old days.

Those days are long gone and so are the people from that but my future and my potential are not. No wonder one of the most quoted quotes is “Each day is a new beginning” and all of its variations or its Christian iteration from the book of Lamentations, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Life may not be the way I expected it to be but I can always try and I will die trying.

PS. I have read The Mistborn Trilogy before written by the same author but The Stormlight Archives series is in a different league of its own. I like Kaladin more so far than I like Vin as the main character. Although I’m only barely halfway through the first book, I would definitely recommend you to read The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.