Tears of the Kingdom: Koroks and Our Heavy Burdens.
Korok’s have been one of the most delightful parts of the Breath of the Wild universe for me. The little “yahaha” is a cute, bright ray of sunshine in what could be essentially a frustrating and lonely time in Hyrule. Because of the anticipation of their presence, the constant visual perceptiveness of examining your surroundings makes you appreciate more of the beauty of the gameplay as a whole. A rock out of place, a pattern incomplete, or just a couple steps of adventure can lead you to encounter a Korok.
While expanding your item pouch and inventory is important, just the interactions with the Koroks have always been fun in themselves. Tears of the Kingdom added another layer to our Korok adventures by having a short stubby little Korok that is exhausted and overburdened by his journey. The backpack he's carrying leaves him unable to move as his friends have been separated from him and left him behind.
He states “I need to reach my friend. Aww, my friend and I got separated... My friend is sending up a smoke signal. I can’t wait to catch up! I’m so tired though. I can’t move...”
They left a pillar of smoke for you to follow but they ultimately have left this little guy to his own lonesome demise in the Gloom infested portions of Hyrule. I thought it was cool at first but then oftentimes I would come across these guys and genuinely feel like “dude I do not have time to get you where you need to go right now.” The more often I encountered these overburdened abandoned little twig people the more I realized how very similar it feels to different aspects of my own life and the lives of people I see all throughout the world.
One of the main reasons the Korok is left to his lonesome and is separated from his friends is because he's carrying more than he should be carrying. He has a backpack on that's more than twice his size. He's carrying this weight he's not able to maintain and that has left him stranded and alone. We don't know if everything in his bag is his alone. He could be carrying stuff for his whole group. Either way, the weight that he's carrying has caused him to be in a position of exhaustion and isolation and I think that's something that we often end up in ourselves. We carry so much weight in our own lives that we can't keep going at the pace we need to.
There’s a passage in Galatians 6 that emphasizes different aspects of what we carry. (This passage/breakdown is also discussed in book 7)
“2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. “ - Galatians 6:2-5.
This breaks down the concept of burdens (verse 2) and loads (verse 5). These are both things that need to be carried, but there is a difference though in the responsibility of who and how these things happen. The Greek word for burden in verse 2 is “Baros.” This means the stuff that happens to you. The things that are placed on you. The things you don’t have control over.
The Greek word for load in verse 5 is “Phortion.” These are the things you are personably responsible for. The stuff that is solely your responsibility. The stuff that comes with your place in life, career, relationships, and responsibilities.
There is a big distinction between the two, and instruction on how they are handled. We are all supposed to carry our own loads, but we are also responsible to carry the burdens of others. Burdens are the stuff they can’t and aren’t meant to carry by themselves. One of the biggest problems in our lives comes when we mistake our burdens for our loads and try to carry them all by ourselves. Then we end up like our poor stranded Korok. Carrying more than we are able. Alone. Unable to move forward. Waiting for someone to care and have enough capacity to help.
The Korok carrying more than he could bear is definitely an issue, but so are his friends that would leave him behind. They were present enough to light a smoke signal, yet not present enough to make sure he wasn’t carrying more than he could. That Korok had a load to carry but it's obvious that his burdens were heavier than he can manage.
Drop Your Burdens
Even when we don't have people in our lives helping us carry our burdens, Jesus tells us that if we go to Him, He'll take our burdens and give us something we can actually bear.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30.
That’s not simply a quick process like dropping a bag. It’s more of slowly shedding what we carry as we learn to take on what Christ offers. Jesus mentions we’ll receive rest, physically and for our souls, but it’s also a process of learning from Him. The learning process is usually where people walk away. They want someone to just take the weight off of them instantly without any additional interaction. The reality is it’s learning the balance of what we carry, what we lay day, and what we choose to put on, and that process is slowly learned in and through Jesus. Which is why so many believers end up continually carrying things we could choose to lay down, but in our stubbornness, we end up like our chonky Korok chum.
To The Rescue
People have made quite the adventurous and often hilarious escapades of tormenting the abandoned Koroks. Fusing them to rockets, attaching them to perilous items, electrocuting them, blowing them up, and things way more creative than I personally have time for. They’ve become easy targets. They are fuseable and too overburdened to fight back. When we are overburdened, we become easy targets too. For criticism, for depression, for isolation, and so many other things that just seem like we are on the malicious end of someone’s cruel sense of humor.
Sometimes we need more than someone to just put up a signal, we need someone to actually come and rescue us. This is obviously where Link comes in with regards to the game, but we really do need to be better about this when it comes to others who are overburdened and lost.
Jesus gives the beautiful example of the man who would leave the 99 to go after the 1.
““What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish." - Matthew 18:12-14.
Jesus makes this example, but so often it gets relegated to only pastors or people of professional ministry capacities. It ends up being weaponized by church folks who want to passively aggressively assert dominance, like “If I haven't attended church in 6 weeks, the pastor better show up at my house to want to know where I am or at least Facebook message me.” While shepherding is important, it’s not only up to the pastor to see those who are lost, burdened, and abandoned, just like it shouldn’t be on Link alone to rescue these Koroks. When we see that our brothers and sisters have fallen aside we can't just turn the light on so they can see the way home, we need to go find them.
“My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” - James 5:19-20
When we help bring home those who are wandering and burdened, we’re not just helping them restore an appearance or status, we’re helping them find their home, and as James puts it, saving them from death.
When you help a Korok be united with his friend, you usually get a reward. They say “Thanks for bringing my friend! Here’s something for you!” That’s because that is a cause of celebration. While I do celebrate my inventory expanding, there’s so much more of a lasting reward when we help someone find their way home spiritually. In the Luke account of the lost sheep, we get to hear the outcome of the rescued sheep.
“And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” - Luke 15:5-7
Heaven itself rejoices when we help our lost friends find their way home, to be reunited. I think the process to help correct our attitudes in this shifts when we see these overburden people the way Jesus did and less like annoying Korok side quests when we are in the middle of an important mission or just more highly prioritized shenanigans.
Here was Jesus’ response to the overburdened and lost in the path of His journey;
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” - Matthew 9:36
When we see people out in this world clearly overburdened like their souls are crying out “I need to reach my friend!” How will we respond? Ignoring them like a trivial side quest? Kicking them while they are down because we don’t actually care? Or will we look at them with compassion like Jesus and help them make it home?
Feel free to go “Yahaha” after you help someone though. It might make things weird, but you won’t forget it soon.