“You cannot alter your fate, my prince. However, you can rise to meet it if you choose.”
– the Wise Woman, Princess Mononoke
As I celebrated the milestone of two hundred quotes last week, I thought about what quote to pick to represent moving forward. This one ought to do! 🙂
At the beginning of the movie, the main protagonist, Ashitaka, battles a demon and, though successful, he is cursed by his enemy to suffer a most slow and agonizing death. There is nothing whatsoever that he or his loved ones can do to change this. His fate is now fixed, it would seem. But that doesn’t mean he has to sit back and wallow in misery until death finally claims him.
Instead, he leaves his home, looking for where the demon came from and the true source of the evil behind his curse. His hopes for finding a cure are very low, and every being he encounters either can’t or won’t help him, but nonetheless he perseveres and helps others instead of trying to save himself. He confronts hatred itself, and pain, and fear, and stands strong against all of it, even against death itself.
In the end, his choice, indeed his entire attitude of meeting his fate head-on instead of letting it devour him, is rewarded when he finds the curse removed from his flesh completely. He still has some life left to live.
There is something very inspiring about that. Especially so, I think, when so many people are bemoaning their lot in life. It’s not as easy or as happy as they would like, they don’t have everything they want, they’re suffering something truly terrible, etc. They let their pain get to them, becoming angry and afraid. It’s a perfectly human thing, of course, but having gone just a little ways down that road myself, I can say… it sucks! There’s a better way to go through life, and to approach what seems to be our fate.
First of all, no one’s fate is truly set in stone.
Ashitaka was cursed to die slowly and in pain, but he could have just as easily died before the curse killed him, perhaps in battle, or an accident, or some natural disaster, or from starvation. Some people – and I dearly hope I am not being insensitive about this – live with diagnoses of fatal diseases hanging over their heads like guillotines. Some people grow bitter over it, and I can’t really blame them for that. But I think they often forget that we can die anytime anyway. They might go into remission, or they might beat whatever is killing them only to die some other way five minutes after getting the good news. Even when you have a very good idea when and how you might go, you don’t actually know. That’s part of what’s so inspiring about people who meet such a fate, rather than cursing it, with dignity and grace, with joy in their lives and love in their hearts. Which goes into the real point I want to make.
Fate may decide when to meet us, but we decide how to meet our fate.
I don’t just mean how we meet our ending, whether it be as cowards or heroes or whatnot. I don’t just mean that choice that cornered men make to either lie down and die or fight to their last breath. I mean the everyday choices of who we choose to be. The sort of person we are, or are trying to be, that’s entirely up to us. If we can’t avoid death, then who do we want to be when we die? Who we will be is who we are every day leading up to it, and who we are still choosing to become.
That’s part of why I keep blogging, actually, most especially sharing these many quotes. I do this because it brings me some joy, and because it’s one small, humble way in which I can give just a little bit of my light to this world, by giving it to you, my wonderful audience. That’s who I want to be when I meet my fate: someone who was happy, and someone who offered something, anything, to the world and the people I love.