Beyond the Stars Lies Forever: Happy Anniversary, Girls’ Generation!
Before technology like satellites and GPS navigation, and especially before the compass application that now comes on most smartphones, ancient sailors used astrolabes to navigate the blackest of oceans. These instruments were incredibly complex, made of material heavy enough to resist sliding along a jerking ship deck, and constructed to show location based on angles etched ever so carefully around the ring of the main body. Using an astrolabe required a steady hand, a sharp eye, and a quick mind, all to steer ships safely into worlds both new and old.
Hundreds of years later, Girls’ Generation came along on one particular summer day, daring to sail where no one else had ever thought to go.
Hallyu is not a wave that can be rendered safe by a flimsy flotation device, nor by a sturdy lifeboat. Drowning in it is far too easy, so to even attempt to swim with it is a daunting challenge, at best. And yet, this particular group of girls — small in age but big in dreams — decided to set off to sea: sails completely unfurled and spyglasses pointed towards the barest horizon, where the ocean finally meets the sky.
For years, they’ve braved the stormiest of waters while armed with nothing but skilled hands and a dash of hope. They’ve sparred with obstacles more treacherous than the whirlpools of Charybdis and thrown their anchor onto the shores of countless islands otherwise left uncharted. They’ve worked through the salt and the tears and the heartache and the most back-breaking, gut-wrenching pain, to still be able to turn and look at the camera lens with the most genuine satisfaction. Because yes, they are here. They’ve made it.
But they aren’t done yet. The oceans are wide, and the world is wider; a lifetime isn’t nearly enough to explore the infinite corners of this globe. And so, the crew members of this particular sailboat have started to go off on their own. Embracing new cultures, dabbling in musicals and dramas and feature films, and never failing to charm show hosts as well as ordinary citizens in nations many oceans away from Seoul. These girls — women, now — are doing what they do best, and also what they want to do better, because on this endless journey, the only wrong direction to go is deciding to stand still.
But in the end, they will always return. Maybe with a different hair color, and maybe with unfamiliar sand still stuck between their toes. They will bring souvenirs and stories and perhaps even a scar or two. And maybe they’d gotten a bit lost on the way there or back, or seriously considered docking permanently at a place where the ground isn’t constantly rocking beneath their feet. But “home”, out here, is where they will always feel the most comfortable.
For them, it will always be moving. But even as “home” shifts with the changing tides and swirling winds, every one of their hearts is an unfailing astrolabe, effortlessly guiding each one back to the vessel that started it all, back to the people who have worked through too much together to leave one of their members stranded and with nowhere to go.
So yes, we will always remember the summer that we went sailing, on that August 5th that was the start of an odyssey. And yes, we haven’t even heard the song yet. But this anniversary is special, in the way that each one is more special than the one previously, because it’s another year closer to forever. So we already have no doubt that this summer will exceed our most daring imaginations to date.
Which is, as usual, to be expected of Girls’ Generation.
Sources: Taeyeon’s Instagram, GMail, “Paradise in Phuket”
Written by: moonrise31@soshified
Originally posted on August 5th, 2016.