a few nights ago on the recommendation of a friend who said it was one of her favorite movies. It was a tender, poignant movie about three high school friends but—spoiler alert—the narrator said early on in the film, in two or three different places, that the dying girl didn’t die. And then, at the end, she did. Aside from the fact that I felt the teeniest bit manipulated by being told a lie, I was so curious about what happens when the end—death—is taken off the table of imminent possibilities. Would I have watched the movie differently if I knew the dying girl was going to die?
I know it was just a movie, but since the inevitability of death has been an, um, obsession of mine since I was young, I’m wondering if I would have paid more attention to the dying girl, if I would have appreciated her quirkiness more if I’d known she was going to die.
And of course that makes me wonder about day-to-day life and how easy it is to forget the temporary nature of it all. And I wonder if, like the dying girl in the movie, I lived with death in mind—or as Don Juan said in the Castaneda books, with death over my shoulder—I too would appreciate every little thing, every quirkiness. Even as I write this, I ask myself what I am paying attention to now. Is it the sound of the keys clicking, is it the feeling of my feet on the floor, the trill of the one bird outside? Am I here or am I racing into what we’re going to do when I finish writing this. The future. My friend Catherine once said that we can’t have forever, but we can have eternity—if we are really present here, now. Because if I pay attention to the sound of the keys clicking and the coolness of the floor, then there is no past, there is no future, there is only this. And this. And this. I think that’s what Catherine meant by eternity.