“Men are threatened by the vastness of eternity. And so, we ask ourselves, ‘will our actions echo through eternity?'” the narrator of movie Troy wants to know. Now what I want to know is. . . do we really have to ask ourselves that question? Must we be threatened by the vastness of eternity when we can salivate and be thrilled at the certainty of it instead?
I know one (not personally,though) who thought his name was a stone he was obliged to throw into the distance of a thousand years; someone who felt the need to be remembered and commemorated even after the last sense of existence has left his lifeless vessel; someone who wanted his name shouted even though he won’t be there to respond anymore: Achilles.
Does the name ring a bell? Even just a rusty one, folks? No? Well, to those that can’t hear the bell, the bell wants to inform you that Achilles was a huge puzzle piece to the Greek mythology both before and after he played a pivotal role in the Trojan War since every part of his body spelled ultimate i-n-v-i-n-c-i-b-i-l-i-t-y aside from his heel (if you’re still clueless at this point of time I suggest you restudy your Mythology notes or else I’ll 911 your teacher).
According to the story, Achilles allegedly joined the war against the Trojans only because he was told that, “This war will never be forgotten, nor will the heroes who fought in it”. And so, since he wasn’t a huge fan of anonymity, no further rhetoric was needed for him to spill some Trojan blood. Such was the time of gods, goddesses, altars, offerings, nymphs, naiads and Achilles. When men convinced themselves that there were honor, bravery, superiority and greatness in shedding another man’s blood.
It’s sad that one may think I’m only talking about a mythical era filled with far-fetched phenomenons and ideals when in fact, the act is also definitely real and alive (oxymoron moment alert) in the very mortal world you and I are in that its reality could pass as the predecessor of the mythical world’s ideals.
For all we know, we might be breathing the remains of the great King Arthur or perhaps Napoléon Bonaparte. . . .
Back to Achilles once more. It is ironic, as much as it is an epic failure, that despite all the brute effort, heroism and invincibility he displayed and planned to be celebrated for, majority of people’s attention are still turned to that one tiny thing that ended his immortality: his heel.
Now relating another movie, The Fault In Our Stars, here’s quoting a conversation between Hazel Grace talking to her cancer-stricken boyfriend,“You think that the only way to lead a meaningful life is for everyone to remember you, for everyone to love you. Guess what? This is your life. This is all you get. You get me, and you get your family, and you get this world, and that’s it. And if that’s not enough for you, then I’m sorry, but it’s not nothing. Because I love you, and I’m gonna remember you.”
There. It just goes to show that the desire similar to Achilles’ is a side-effect of discontent, insecurity and vanity. Why, do you think applause and flattery would somehow ascend (or descend) to wherever you go hereafter? Is it incredibly important for people you don’t even know and vice versa to praise you, talk about you and celebrate you or what you’ve done? I don’t suppose it is.
In my opinion, a simple and quiet life that touches and inspires others even after it ends weighs a lot more than a famous life celebrated for its flamboyance alone. Who would you want standing by your death-bed in your final moments? A set of thousands upon thousands of starstruck admirers who only like you for your good side? Or a select few of people, loved ones, who saw you through the good, bad and ugly yet remained firmly and loyally planted in your life? Which is more melodious to your ears? A tumultuous crowd wild over your presence or a soft, intimate whisper of your name then maybe followed by an “I love you” or a “Thank you”? Eternity of applause or a “little infinity” shared with your beloved? Take your pick.
In hopes of preventing you to feel obliged to fan away the haze of oblivion, i.e, chase fame and acclamation, I have 3 words for you: Quality over quantity.