memento mori.

April 22, 2009

Memento mori is a Latin phrase meaning “be mindful of death,” and may be translated as “remember that you are mortal,” “remember you will die,” “remember that you must die,” or “remember your death”.

It can be thought of as either depressing or maybe even disturbing to some, but these days I’ve been thinking about mortality: about death, about life, about the purpose behind living.
I don’t think I’ll be able to understand this post if I re-read it, and I don’t know if anyone else will be able to. Regardless, I think I will right about it, because writing things out — putting my thoughts down in a tangible state — makes me feel secure.
My contemplation about ~The Meaning of Life~ may be due to playing through the Sun Social-Link level of Persona 3 (I still think the Persona series is a work of art, and I swear that I don’t fling that title around meaninglessly. It simply must be made into a novel: I swear, its depth is overlooked).
I’ll summarize it: Basically, you befriended a young guy named Akinari, who’s about 17 or 18 — maybe even 16. He was terminally ill, and wasn’t allowed to leave the hospital on any day except Sunday. He spent his “freedom” at the local shrine, where he read and wrote. He was tall and very thin, with pale skin and long, pale blonde — almost gray — hair.
At first, Akinari suffered from depression, saying that everyone lived a “fairytale” life compared to his. He frequently broke out into random fits of coughing which honestly scared the hell out of me. …He knew that he was on the verge of death, and developed something resembling a phobia of it — he talks about reading books, countless books, but never finishing them because he didn’t ever want their stories to end. Eventually, with your character’s support, he decided that he wanted to write his own novel, for no one but himself, in a small, tattered notebook. The novel focuses on a pink alligator, which represented himself, along with the alligator’s friend — a bird which could not fly. The pink alligator was ridiculed and pitied, and due to its colour, it could not catch prey easily — thus, it usually went hungry. The bird befriended the alligator, staying with it constantly and practicing its flying skills on its back.
Now, here’s where I meet a bit of a blank space, as I haven’t heard the rest of the story from Akinari yet. However, I know how it ends: the alligator got so hungry one day that it ate its bird friend. Distraught, it cried for hours, which turned into days — eventually, it made a river with its tears, which it drowned in. From its body grew a tree, which was nourished by its tears. The tree grew to be magnificent, and all of the animals of the rain forest would go there to relax and have fun. They never knew about the origins of the tree… but they found meaning in its existence.
Akinari words his story waaay more beautifully, of course… but that’s the gist. As he reached the ending, Akinari smiled and said that he was glad he met the main character. He said that his life wasn’t empty — even though it didn’t last as long as he wanted it to, he met a friend — a best friend, who was there for him everyday; who gave him hope. No matter how one tries to avoid it, the end will one day come.
He said that even though death is morbid and sad, it’s not pointless. Once someone, anyone, finds meaning in your life — even if it’s the smallest thing, like meeting every Sunday on a bench, like exchanging a smile or a nod — once someone finds meaning in your existence, your life was not for naught. And thus, your death wasn’t, either. He gives you the tattered notebook which he wrote his story in, then says that he’s sure that you two will meet again someday. He then becomes transparent and disappears.
It turned out that he died during the week, and his spirit had returned to the Shrine to exchange his final words with you. Honestly, that scene was very touching — very touching, and I’ll admit, I cried for at least half an hour after seeing it on YouTube.
I’ll admit: I’m afraid of death. Not because of the pain I might go through, or because it’s the end of me — I’m more afraid of what it’ll do to the people in my life. How will they react? Would they fall into depression? If they were unable to move on, I would grow horribly sad as well. Would they cry for me, but still move on? Would I be okay with that? I think I would be — I want to see those important to me happy. But would they forget about me? …Or would it just be another life which reached its end, another overlooked article in the obituaries?
I don’t want people to become distraught over my death, whenever it happens — hopefully in the very far future. I want them to care, but to move on. I don’t want them to forget me, and I’m sure they won’t. Even if they do, whatever we did together, whatever we experienced… it still happened, regardless of whether or not they remember it. It would survive on the wind’s breath; it will be engraved in time. And I think that itself is what will give both my life and my death meaning.

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One Response to “memento mori.”

  1. mrred said

    Love this blog I’ll be back when I have more time.

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