That’s right. Why live?
What’s the point?
To lay it bare, at some point in your life, this question will confront you, the mortal that you are, the way it has confronted me and every other person who has lived for some time on this Earth — bluntly, without regard for who you are or what you’ve accomplished.
It will treat you with the exact same indifference towards your status, background and appearance, just as anyone else, no matter who you are.
Knowing this, why in heaven’s name should you, as a human being, live?
What reason is there to do such a thing?
In other words, what meaning is there to life in human existence?
What makes you special that you believe you’re worthy of living in this sea of souls drifting within this blue pearl in space?
Is there any meaning to it all?
One person believes there is, another believes there isn’t and yet another doesn’t know what to believe.
If no one knows anything, how can you possibly answer the question?
“How am I supposed to know if my life has meaning? How should I know why I should live?”
The longest one can live (at least, currently) is upwards of 100 years, and the shortest is…let’s just say less than a year. Most people live a lifetime somewhere between the 2 extremes — meaning, the average person has years to come up with a satisfactory answer to those timeless questions.
Yamada Tsuyoshi just turned 23 years old when this question beat him senseless one, clouded weekday in Tokyo1. All day long, one mishap after another inflicted physical pain and emotional misery upon him on what he yearned to be a day of celebration and joy: his own birthday in the largest city in the world — until finally he climbed to the rooftop of his favorite spot in the metropolis, ready to leave this world behind for good…
By the hand…
Stuffing his mouth full of soft, sweet delicacy.
Weeping like never before in his life, he surveyed the pedestrians crossing the streets below, the evening lights swirling at the intersection, stores selling their everyday wares and the murky skies above…
…well…I’ll leave it there.
What happens after is where his story takes a turn — where his destiny changes course — where his fate takes notice.
Personally, perhaps my favorite part of life itself is the unknown — the future and its potential — its seeping suspense.
It is by not knowing that I can take the initiative to dream, to grasp out towards the stars and to put forth faith in what may be.
Not to gamble — but to build towards something I truly believe is worthwhile, possible, meaningful.
For the only ones who achieve the seemingly “impossible” are the ones who actually try.
To fly, touch the moon, heal the afflicted.
They defy the odds, take scrutiny in stride and set course for their pursuits on the horizon, navigating the rapids of life, the winds of the future and the marvelous creatures of the world’s vast lands and roaring seas.
To live is to do the same — to place faith in the unknown — to find the answers while riding the currents, wherever they may take you — and to travel to sights unimagined.
No one knows how your life will unfold — not even you — not even me — no one. The only people that will are those from the future, who will look back at your life and its events that took place underneath the stars, which shine their light upon all the animals of this world, even us humans.
Yamada was 23 years old when he lay his hand on the knob of death’s door. Before he turned it, though, the question before him confronted the very essence of his being: why live?
He paused for a moment, probably more for an eternity in the span of a mere, few seconds in actuality — but during what seemed like time at a standstill, he tackled the question, head-on, maybe for the first time in his entire life.
“Maybe” because he might’ve given half-hearted attempts to answer the very meaning of his own existence prior to this defining moment — but now he had no choice but to find the ultimate answer from the depths of his soul…
An answer that only he knew, himself, and no one else.
In fact, not once does he mention that moment to anyone else in the rest of the series.
Just like him, everyone has their secrets, but they need not all be damning ones.
Some secrets can be dreams, hopes, faiths that are too precious to reveal to others.
I definitely have some that I wish to keep to myself for the rest of my life because of how dear they are to me, which no one can steal, no matter how hard one may try. They are that precious.
Like Yamada, I have my own reasons for living, and they need not be special or profound in any way — they just need to work for me to keep me going while I continue to sail towards that distant horizon, beyond which lies a mystery all who have ever lived venture into.
…so why live?
Yamada Tsuyoshi is the main character of Densha Otoko, a Japanese drama that originally aired on the Fuji TV network from July-September 2005.
Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you again someday when we can meet again through the written word, the same medium that Shakespeare, Machiavelli and Cervantes expressed themselves to their contemporaries and future generations with. It’s extraordinary how they’re “alive” even today, and whether you’re reading this in 2020 or 3020 for some crazy reason, thank you. Really.
May I see you again!
Cover. Courtesy of Fuji TV, Miguel Saucedo, under Fair Use. Clip from Densha Otoko (Train Man), Ep. 11, Greatest Confession in History!! Graduation Exercises of Tears.
1. Densha Otoko (Train Man), Ep. 1, A Love Being Watched Over by a Million People.