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Philosophy

The Problem With Being Remembered

Life is like a plot, the more I think of it.

At birth, there is an introduction. A heavenly beacon of light to start it all. The world opens, and we begin to live. It all seems so wonderful, magical, and sensible. The first few chapters are great, and we all cling onto our chairs as we witness the stages of life develop right before our very eyes. In the middle, we learn. We turn into madmen – cynical to life’s wonders. I call this character development. At death, the story ends. Some end abruptly, others with a bang that allow them to stand out against countless other stories.

Life can be a bit of a Games of Thrones, too; nobody survives it at the end.

But, in life, I begin to ponder. There is no sequel. A story ends at book one, with no room on the shelves of our world to continue. I have come to terms with this. Life is not like a book at all, with this statement. Because lives, in the end, are never reread. They end, and no one ever knows. No one will remember. The world still spins when the story ends, as if the story never took place at all.

Some stories, however, tend to be a little unconventional when it comes to this. I always hear that everyone matters in some way, shape, or form. That memories are forever – even though I, myself, am not. I hear it all the time, but I have never agreed. I cannot recall to you a specific memory, one that stands out against the millions that coexist throughout my life, and do you know why? The flow matters to every story, yet every story doesn’t matter to the flow.

There comes a time in everyone’s life, including my own, when they lose their life’s spotlight: when they lose the desire to continue their story or feel as if their story has no purpose. Their pivotal peak hits, slamming full force, as they tend to give up on life in its entirety. Some retire, giving up on their career. Some face drug addiction or tragedy, giving up on their image. Some go into isolation, giving up on the world.

That key moment – the one that seems like the end of the best chapter of the book – is the one that forces words to violently fall from the front pages. Tragedy, pure tragedy. Some let it happen, falling into oblivion once and for all. Some, like myself, cling desperately in an attempt to revive it all. A final attempt to keep what they believe they deserve: the story to keep going. The end can’t be near, after all, with life being only a third of the way gone.

Perhaps society allows it. In order to make room for the next story, the next person, I must clean up the shelves that bear all of our stories. Everyone, including myself, must realize that everything ends and everything is forgotten. The great works of Hippocrates and Didymus have been lost to the public, and they did wonders for their own time.

I have a problem coming to terms with this. How could people on such a scale as they – those who lived, breathed, felt the same as me – be forgotten as if they did not exist at all? Especially after the contributions of mathematics and literary records that they left for history to remember them for! How would I, one that has left next to nothing so far, be able to recover from a pivotal decline if the names of long-gone have diminished despite greatness?

Have I ever wondered? Have I ever thought? As I walk down the road, I wonder all the time. Everyone has a story, and no one sees exactly what I see. The people that drive past me, what do they see? What do they think? What do they want? Sure, we are living at the same time, perhaps witnessing the same actions and breathing in the same sweet smells of our society. But where do we stand? On opposite ends of what we truly are. All these stories take place simultaneously, and we all will one-day reach that peak where we no longer desire to see the story out. Or, in my case, aspire to continue the story even though there is nothing left.

This is writer’s block. There is so much to say and not enough time to say it. Some, in history, may claim that this very paper is the end of my pivotal peak. The beginning of the end. The start of the very decline that will wash me, along with everyone else, away with all the other names that history has whisked into the great abyss. If the names of the men and women who made my society are fading quickly, what chance do I have of being remembered? What story matters most when no story matters at all in the end?

I can call it an existential crisis. I can call it incoherent psychobabble. I can call it the truest definition of irony, or maybe madness. I can call it whatever I wish, because I’ve considered it all myself. But my main point remains true, so very true:

We’re told to think of a memory when, I ask, how do we think of a memory when the memory can’t think of us?

memory

the-problem-with-being-remembered

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I’m a writer and historian. Simple enough, right? I enjoy philosophy, sociology, social psychology, politics, basic programming, statistics, and old books. Unlike the stereotypical leftist, I do not necessarily censor myself. I apologize in advance if you find yourself offended by something I’ve said; but I do enjoy hearing criticism and having debates.

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Joseph Kaminski
I’m a writer and historian. Simple enough, right? I enjoy philosophy, sociology, social psychology, politics, basic programming, statistics, and old books.

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