These last two weeks, I’ve been reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I feel like people have been recommending Shadow to me for so long, it’s really about time I got around to it. But I’m only about 200 pages in, so no spoilers please.
Anyway, anyone who has read it, or knows anything about the work of Ruiz Zafón will know that Shadow is magnificently written, and full of beautifully poetic prose. If I spent all day trying to mark or note down every line I liked, it would take me forever to finish reading it. Since I haven’t been writing down notable quotes, I actually feel like I’m really powering through this. I mean, considering how slowly I usually read, this feels almost too fast; but it’s just such a page-turner, and maybe I’ve just been in more of a reading mindset lately (?)
All of that aside, there is one quote that I wanted to share:
“He would have liked to know that somebody wanted to keep him alive, that someone remembered him. He used to say that we exist as long as somebody remembers us.”
– Nuria Monfort, speaking of Julián Carax (Chapter 20)
This one really struck a chord.
I reckon some part of why I keep this blog – maybe a small part, maybe a part more significant than I’d like to admit – is so that I can be remembered, or so that there is some part of me permanently somewhere (although who knows how permanent anything on the internet is these days…)
And maybe part of the reason why I write anything – stories, cards, letters – is so that when all is said and done, and there is nothing else left, there will still be my words – my thoughts and sentiments spelt out on a page. And they may sometimes be black and white, or sometimes woven into a shroud of other words, but they will always there for the recipient to read and decipher.
Of course, for the most part, I write just because I like to write, and I am compelled to write in the same way I’m compelled to run or eat or sleep (I’m sure I’ve blogged about this before, possibly more than once). But, yes, I suppose there is more to it.
But why should I care about being remembered? Is this part of some base human desire for immortality? As long as I’m remembered, I exist, ergo I can be immortal as long as I’m remembered.
Honestly, I don’t think that’s it. To borrow a high school friend’s old turn of phrase, I reckon immortality is overrated.
What I think this comes down to – why I think this quote about being remembered resonated with me – is probably more to do with the people I miss. This could just be recency bias (I honestly didn’t know that was a legitimate term until I Googled it just now), but I think I’ve spent more time this year thinking about people who aren’t here compared to any other year of my life (I know that’s a big call, but, again, recency bias, and also I am only in my mid-twenties – doesn’t this just sound like the typical sentimental ramblings of a twenty-something?)
And, yes, I suppose that could mean that I miss a lot more people, or that I miss certain people more intensely, or that I just think of various people at various times when they are absent (without necessarily missing them, per se). But I also wonder if I am thought of in return – if I’m remembered. It’s a nice feeling, isn’t it, when someone sends you a message out of the blue just to say that they were thinking of you.
Perhaps being remembered is also a way of signifying meaning and importance. You have to make some sort of impact on others in order for them to remember you, right? Maybe this life sometimes feels too surreal, or too ephemeral. Maybe people just want some assurance that they aren’t just a finite blip on the timeline of humanity. (Too much? Ok, but you get my drift, right? If you haven’t already, go read Shadow, and you’ll understand why my mind’s wandering in this manner.)