Entry 67: Mortality Salience
When was the first time you became afraid of death?
As a child, I knew the end result of some things, which happened to be death. It wasn't until I was laying on my bed one night, alone with my thoughts, that I began to ponder about what death really meant. As my thoughts explored deeper into the idea, I then realized, for the first time in my life, that death was inevitable for me. I remember realizing this thought as a child, and I walked to the kitchen, crying, and told my mother "I don't want to die."
It was challenging at the time for my mother to explain how life and death works, but I do remember the feeling of realizing the bitter end of it all. But even over the years, I am fortunate to have not partaken in the act of grieving from a death.
I have known other people who have lost close family members and friends to the hands of death, but for 24 years of my life, I have never had this tragedy in my personal life. In some ways this is a blessing, but I am also unable to empathize with others.
Whenever I watch a movie that has a loss of a dear friend/pet, I cannot fathom the sadness or emotional impact it has on others who cry because of it. I simply do not understand how devastating a death can have on a person, because I have never been in their shoes before.
This week, I know two separate people who have had a death in the family (possibly on the same day, too). One is a coworker who lost his young daughter to a disease that she has been battling for her entire life. The other is my dad, who lost his aunt due to heart failure.
It's a struggle, I'm certain, for these people to undergo the pain of death; a pain that I do not understand. Even so, I have always wondered about the phenomenon of life coming to an end, which can pave way to new life, in some instances. It can also inspire cultures to create festivals or traditions that gather people to remember the fallen. And it continues to pull my curiosity.
For the past year, I have had an idea for a visual short film that I wanted to create in 3D. I had certain characters and scenes planned out, but it never manifested because I had no real story as a foundation. But one day I came across this comic strip:
It was a beautiful yet simple explanation of the relationship between life and death. This theme inspired my film's story and gave me the confidence to create it. I am currently finishing the last concept drawings before I begin the actual 3D animating, but until I can show you any screenshots, here is the plot to my film:
In a fictional world, the sun begins to rise, which reveals a waste-ridden land covered in ash. As the light breaches the horizon, two masks on the ground are shown. One of them begins to awaken, and a white aura emits from it. The other mask also awakens, but a black aura emits from it. The spirits of Life and Death are both awake.
Life begins to wander the land, until it notices that it can create lifeforms from the ash. Life then swoops across the land and creates forests and herds of creatures, while Death continuously follows the other spirit.
In Life's creative pursuits, it spawns a massive dragon-like creature that begins to wreak havoc and topples the balance between Life and Death. When the dragon unleashes chaos that causes the world to crash and burn, Death becomes the hero at the end by stopping the dragon.
The story ends as the sun begins to set, and the unspoken yin-yang relationship between Life and Death come to a conclusion as the auras dissipate from the two spirits and they both return to the ground as inanimate masks.
And that's my story.
I begin animating in May, which will unveil a visual adventure that is filled with beautiful hues and tragic action. But until then, I would like to hear some of your stories that deal with the bitter ending of death. How did you deal with it, and is it possible to explain it to a person who never felt that pain? Apologies if this brings up sad memories, but I am genuinely curious about your story.
Thank you for your time.
Daniel Cantu II