Sometimes I wonder.
I want to be very clear, right off the bat: I have never contemplated suicide. Not once, as far as I can recall. I rather enjoy living. Not that people that commit suicide don’t enjoy living. Actually, I don’t know. To be honest, I’ve never really looked into it.
Thinking about death and thinking about suicide are, in my mind, completely separate affairs. It’s the theoretical compared to the practical. Thinking about death is wondering about the nature of men and human relationships. Thinking about suicide is planning the act. I have no plans.
But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t imagined how people would react if I were to collide with a tired truck driver or suddenly careen over the edge of a cliff because my brakes decided to give out.
Deaths of Famous People
It’s not often that I care about a famous figure dying. But man, Robin Williams. It didn’t make me cry, but it did hurt me. I liked the guy, the movies he acted in, his attitude toward things, the fact that he named his daughter Zelda and made commercials for Zelda games. I mean, c’mon, that’s awesome.
He wasn’t perfect. I didn’t care for some of his films or his standup. But who cares what I think? Other people liked those things. And is it fair to boil down a person to just their accomplishments? In any case, when it came to famous people, I felt like Robin Williams was genuine. He presented his real face in a way that younger people might associate with Donald Glover or Jennifer Lawrence. I cared about what he did because he didn’t have a public face—he had only his own. That doesn’t make him any better or worse than anybody else, but it is a trait that matters to me. Probably more so now that I live in a place that seems to only value the public persona.
It’s not that I don’t care when people die. If they’re people close to me, I care. But I don’t understand all the feelings people have for those they don’t know. And yet, here I am, having feelings for someone I’ve never once met in person. Maybe it doesn’t have to make sense.
When I was in high school or college, I can’t remember which, I had a nightmare that Tetsuya Nomura died. It was awful. No more Kingdom Hearts games. No more Final Fantasy Versus XIII (as it was known at the time). No more games with the creativity that made The World Ends With You. He still lives on thankfully. That can’t be said for Kurt Vonnegut or Satoshi Kon, creators who still had a lot of works left unwritten. At least Vonnegut lived into his eighties.
Khatzumoto, creator of All Japanese All The Time, hasn’t posted anything for two months. Unprecedented for him. In the comments section, many people wonder if anything has happened to him. I wonder too. But then, in over eight years, doesn’t he deserve a break?
What’s the difference if he died and if he simply disappeared forever? Do people care about his life? Or do people care about the fact that he produces? As a producer, people want him to keep producing. I’m sure a lot of people legitimately care about him as a person. But as someone public, are most people simply disappointed that a fountain they used to drink from has dried up?
When I told that dream of Tetsuya Nomura’s death to friends and family, most of them only laughed. “Tetsuya Nomura!? He makes video games. Kind of a lame nightmare.” Some of those same people were saddened when Michael Jackson died.
Maybe we’re sad because they can’t create any more. Maybe we’re sad because we felt like we knew them, like friends or family. Maybe we’re sad because it’s—plain and simple—death. Because even someone whose voice and words and creations are immortally preserved in data…even they can die.
I wonder if the sadness we feel is because we recognize the impermanence of our own existences.
What makes death strange is the suddenness of it. It’s not like a created story; death doesn’t need a reason. Sometimes people find they have inoperable cancer and die a week later. Or their brakes give out. Or some drunk driver didn’t have the reflexes to avoid your car when you carelessly pulled out of the driveway. Every death has a cause, but the causes aren’t always planned.
In a created work, characters die to serve a purpose. To cause emotions, or because their presence simply had no more use in the story. Only a bad author kills a main character without reason.
In life, characters die. Without any warning.
When I was in high school, I talked with a girl I fancied about our own funerals. Call it morbid, but we were both legitimately wondering about something we would never get to experience. She mentioned how there would probably be a few people that would show up that you’d never expect. Friends from all different walks of life, who knew you from school and wind ensemble and Scouting and that one kid you tutored at the community center. Now that I’m living in the other half of the world, I wonder where my funeral would be held, and from how far people would come. If it was back in America, would anyone from Japan come?
In life, we influence people. Unknowingly. It’s the whole idea behind one-sided affection, basically. And stalkers. We don’t intend to affect people, but we do, simply by existing as someone around other people. It’s as simple as seeing someone move out of the way for you when you’re carrying a big box and being glad they did. That stranger has affected your life in some small way. I’m of the belief that that puts them somewhere in your life. But even if you don’t take that strict route, it’s hard to believe that your classmates, even the ones you can’t remember from grade school, didn’t affect you in some way.
That classmate who asked for help with the math homework. That girl that pushed you into the steel bars at recess. That parent who said your art was amazing. That teacher that told you to stop taking water from the inside to play with outside. That janitor who told you to keep working so that you can live your dreams. That boy who thought you looked funny and told you to your face. Sometimes you remember it and sometimes you don’t. But even when all those individuals pass on, those interactions are a part of you and influenced the person you became. When you meet new people, you’re passing on those people’s actions as well.
In that sense, we all live forever. Our influence continues down with humanity. Even though I wanted to create “permanent things” like blogs and books and games, even when I could barely walk and only affected my parents, I already had an impact on the human race. Just as you do.
I still worry about death. Knowing my effective immortality doesn’t mean that my death wouldn’t be tragic. We influence in life as we do in death, in what remains. I could see close friends and relatives taking time off of work or quitting their jobs. I could see my successor, the one who would replace me, decide not to come after he learned of my death on a road nearby. I could see my students having to deal with the reality of death before they should. Especially those kids who see me as a wall, strong and invincible as I pretend to be, or those kids who I’ve befriended when others wouldn’t give them a chance. Especially those who’ve seen their friends and lovers die and open themselves up to let me into their world. I don’t know how they would take my death. I hope everyone is rational and reasonable, but I worry that that’s not the case.
So I drive reasonably. I care for my health. I don’t party too hard and I’m not a huge physical risk taker. But you never know. Life is unpredictable.
If, on the off-chance I did die, 万が一, I want everyone to know that I lived a happy life. I always dreamed big, but that never stopped me from enjoying the now. Also, I’d like to be cremated.
And really, I’m immortal, as you all are, so there’d be no reason to be sad.
P.S. I really worried about publishing this because I didn’t want to give people the wrong idea. In the same vein, I hope I haven’t depressed you.
P.P.S. Super Smash Bros. comes out tomorrow!! So stoked!!