One of my favorite movies is The Last Samurai. It’s the fictional depiction of a late 1800’s American mercenary who hates himself, takes an assignment in Japan to hunt down samurai, is captured by them, and manages to quell his inner demons and find peace.
There is a lot worth thinking on this movie. But in this post, however, I want to focus on awareness of one’s death.
Katsumoto: You do not fear death, but sometimes, you wish for it. Is this not so?
Katsumoto: I also. It happens to men who have seen what we have seen. And then…I come to this place of my ancestors…and I remember…like these blossoms…we are all dying.
I have been struck lately by how much of the Savior’s teachings, while on earth, could be boiled down to “Accept reality.” To be aware of the distant when contemplating the near, and the near when contemplating the distant. One reality of unknown distance, with which we must all contend, is death. You will die. I will die. It could be later today. It could be tomorrow. It could be in fifty years. But it will happen.
The reason this is so important to understand is that an awareness of one’s death clears the mind wonderfully. It sweeps away any pretense that much of anything we do matters that much.
Accepting death intellectually does not change our fallen, fearful nature. But it does allow for a certain detachment from the world, and it teaches us that the only true hope is in Christ. And it allows us to be grateful for and focus on the present, which is the only time anything happens anyway.
We should be asking ourselves continually: given that I have an unknowably finite amount of time on this earth, does what I am doing make sense?
Whatever we do, we must be willing to accept the consequences.