Friday, January 15, 2010

Merely Mortal

In this day and age the media is dominated by futuristic movies like Star Trek, The Book of Eli, and that truly nawful 2012. On the other hand, media and pop culture is also dominated by something a little darker, a little edgier. Vampires. I believe that most audiences like the ideal that vampires give us - namely, living forever. Becoming immortal. And while there are other ways to become immortal (like being a great writer, for example - Poe, Tolkien, F. Scott Fitzgerald), we, as a society really like vampires because they are a way to cheat death.

This, however much we like to dream about, simply cannot happen.

"Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold and die." Neil Kleinbaum wrote this line as dialogue for John Keating in Dead Poets Society and it's the same line that has been running my head all day. Or variations of it.

A death in the family is never easy, including one so sudden. The life partner of my grandmother by marriage passed away this morning, and the rest of my day has been filled with tears, memories, and gathering in support.

And, it's quite ironic because I'm usually sitting behind my laptop, composed and with some sort of inkling as to where my posts are going, and I quite frankly can't seem to make much sense of this. I think what's really shaken me so much today isn't so much the death aspect (though, trust me, I'm still working on getting a handle on that since it's an inevitable part of life) but what do you do when you see your father cry? Fathers are heralded as the foundation of a family (traditionally, though I know a few different cases that can blow that out of the water) and my father is a man who is not easily rattled. The house could quite possibly cave in, but as long as everybody was fine and safe, he'd look at it and go, "At least we've got a wood supply." I think I truly can't articulate how difficult this was for me because my mind can't wrap itself around this. And I've been trying all day.

I think I'll leave it at that because I've been trying to form something relatively coherent all day, and I'm still failing miserably, and the only thing that I can think to end on is that when something like this happens, we are forcibly reminded of our own mortality, and the question that we ask ourselves at the end of our years: What have I done with my life?

When you're twenty, in college, going abroad, and trying to figure everything out, you get blindsided with: What exactly am I doing?

And you realize, you're still trying to figure it out. And you will continue to try and figure it out until you confuse yourself and finally say to hell with it and just live.

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"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz