Meaning and Purpose in Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go”

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In general, there are two kinds of people according to how they view their life: those who continually search for meaning and purpose in life, and those who don’t. These two kinds of people come to the same end, however. They die. We die. But that time just before death is where the dying differ. Those who believe (even without any real proof) that they have found meaning and fulfilled their purpose in life, pass confidently though sadly, and those who feel they have unfulfilled promises or dreams or tasks left undone, leave bitterly.

In my lifetime, I have seen enough number of dying people to see this. It is always sad as I know it is the fate of each and every one of us.

Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go” reminds me of that sadness I feel when pondering on the fate of human beings. At first I found this novel disturbing and then extremely sad; and only today, two days after I finished reading the novel, did I finally realize what I found so sad about it.

It is not that the “students” unquestioningly accept their fate of dying young because they are mere clones, created to become organ donors.
It is not that despite their being more humane than the humans who created and raised them, the latter are repulsed by them.

Rather it is that human beings despite their being “superior” to the clones, are ignorant of the real meaning and purpose of their existence, while the clones aren’t. Hence, the former can face death which they aptly call “completing” without fear or regret, albeit with a little sadness. Ishiguro found the perfect word to call death in this novel. When the clones die from having donated their organs, it is because they have accomplished or “completed” the purpose of their existence.

There are people who are convinced that they know their purpose for being in this world – they have faith or they make up their own purpose, but is it really the real purpose for our existence? How will we know for sure?

This is why I envy the clones in the novel, at least there is no doubt in their heads why they exist. For somebody outside looking in, it is a very sad existence, but the “students” in Hailsham had a happy childhood, lots of fun memories, and there was no question in their head as to what was going to happen to them, how their lives would end. As for us, humans, though we know our time is limited, and we attach all kinds of meaning or purpose for our lives, in the end we are all Jon Snow.

We know nothing.

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Daily Prompt: Enlighten 

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Life can sometimes feel like

A big joke — a practical joke

Played on you

Which you don’t find

Funny at all.

And if you’re a believer,

You just feel like asking,

“Really, God? Are you f-ing kidding me?” 

But you go on

Living.

Smiling.

As if everything’s all right

With your world.

Yet deep down you’re yearning

To understand what the hell is going on.

Your heart is screaming —

Enlighten me or just put an end to it.”



Daily Prompt:
Enlighten

Daily Prompt: Sympathy 


Where were you …

When a baby was crying in hunger, 

A mother was grieving over her dying child, 

A beggar was looking for shelter in the cold? 

You weren’t there, 

And you refused to see

Or to even think of them. 

And now you weep, 

Alone, outside your once happy home, 

Certain that nobody will come

To comfort you in your grief. 

But don’t worry…

Somebody always does, 

And most likely they’re the ones,

You once despised 

For their silly faith 

In love, sacrifice, generosity, forgiveness and sympathy. 

Daily Prompt: Sympathy 

Daily Prompt: Relieved 

This may sound very simplistic, but it is quite true: when I am stressed out, all I need is some alone time (not necessarily a quiet place, but a place where I don’t have to talk to anybody) and a bit of nature to to look at — flowers, trees, lake — and then I can recover. My problems may not be solved, but at least I’d have the energy and the clarity of mind to face them.


When people are unhappy about things, they want to cure themselves of this unhappiness as quickly as possible, and do things that most often just add to their unhappiness. I think we ought to embrace this unhappiness first before we let it go. And then we can look to nature to remind ourselves that everything is being taken care of.

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” –Luke 12:27

I believe nature can help heal our unhappiness. We just need to spend time with it and be relieved of our worries by it.

Nature loves patience: always remember that. It is a law given her of God Himself, who has blessed all those who are strong to endure.” –– Gogol, Dead Souls

May you find relief from all your troubles. 💕
T.


Daily Prompt: Relieved

Stop. Look. Listen. Feel. Be grateful. Move on. 

   

Sunset at Dalipuga, Iligan, Philippines 


One of my favorite poems that I can recite by heart is Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. I kept reciting this poem to my baby when I was still pregnant, and even after my son was born. HBO’s Classical Baby The Poetry Show includes a reading of this poem by Susan Sarandon, and it is now my 5-year old son’s favorite part of the video.

A thought came to mind today as I watched my son give me the sweetest smile when the video clip began. A few months after our son was diagnosed with Autism, my husband wished Eli would not grow so quickly. Today, only for a moment I wished Eli would never grow up, so people can excuse his strange stimming habits, his speech delay and other autistic traits. Every now and then  I worry about whether or not he will be able to live independently, when my husband and I won’t be around to look after him anymore.

Frost’s poem talks about how we, once in a while, encounter something that make us wish could last at least a lifetime, but we all have other things to do — duties, responsibilities, roles to play in other people’s lives — so we have to move on, continue living our lives.

The speaker in this poem though was truly in the moment. He   noticed his surroundings: the snow-covered woods, the frozen lake; he heard the sound of the harness bells and the wind. He also used his imagination (“My little horse must think it queer…”), and was quite aware not only of the lack of danger (…He will not see me stopping here/ To watch his woods fill up with snow), but also of his responsibilities and of the life he had to live,   (But I have promises to keep/ And miles to go before I sleep/ And miles to go before I sleep.) 

Oftentimes I look at my son and wonder what life will be like for him. Will he ever be able to speak like a neurotypical person? Will he be able to read by himself the books that he loves for me to read to him? Will he be able to write down his own name?  But then I stop myself from doing this, and instead do things with him. Not much use wondering about the future when so much of it depends on the present.

What I liked most about Frost’s poem is the idea that though we can (and we should) live our lives — face our responsibilities, fulfill our duties, find our way in the darkness — we can stop once in a while and just enjoy what we have in our lives: food on our table, clothes to keep us warm (or cool), roof over our heads,  air we breathe, water we drink, family, friendship. And love. And faith that everything will be all right in the end.

Thank you. Salamat. 谢谢。

On Trying to be Good

 

Sunset over Mindanao Sea (Bohol Sea), Philippines

My heart has been “battered” for weeks now, so I’m not praying for more; but these days this sonnet has been like an earworm (brainworm) in my head.

Holy Sonnet XIV by John Donne

Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me. 
 

People raised to believe in heaven and hell, or just raised to be a good person and to be sorry for doing bad things,  most likely feel guilty for being bad and continually endeavor (and, perhaps, still fail) to be good.

The sonnet expresses that desire to be good (to be with God) again, and the supplicant is willing to be cleansed in any way (by God) just to become pure again.

Perhaps because it’s the Lenten Season, or maybe it’s just because somebody reminded me of this sonnet, that it’s stuck in my head, but it’s been awhile that I have not prayed like this.

Arrogance? I don’t think so. Too busy living? Maybe. Had enough? Well….