In the movie Calvary, Aiden Gillen plays Dr. Frank Harte (you may know Aiden best in his role as Little Finger in Game of Thrones). There is a scene in this movie where he is talking with Father James, played by Brendan Gleeson, that I cannot stop pondering over. Here is the scene:
If you can’t watch the video, here is the script of what Dr. Frank Harte says to Father James:
“You know… when I first started working up in Dublin, there was this 3-year-old boy. Parents brought him into the hospital. A routine operation. But the anesthetist made a mistake. Little boy ended up deaf, dumb, blind… and paralyzed. For good. Think of it! Think when that little boy first regained consciousness. In the dark. You’d be frightened, wouldn’t you? You’d be frightened in the kind of way that you know the fear is going to end. Has to. Must. Your parents couldn’t be too far away. They’ll come to your rescue. They’ll turn the light on. They’ll talk to you. But… think of it. Nobody comes to rescue you. No light is turned on. You are in the dark. You try to speak… but you can’t. You try to move… but you can’t. You try to cry out. But you are unable to hear your own screams. You are entombed within your own body. Howling with terror.”
This scene had me contemplating on who I really am. When I say “I” or “me,” to what am I actually referring? Although it is disturbing and horrifying thinking about being permanently trapped in the state described above, many of us seek out this type of consciousness. On several occasions, I’ve tried to put myself in such a deep state of relaxation, shutting out all noise, light, and as much feeling as possible. What is left?
Even trying to shut these off for as long as I possibly can, they inevitably return. That is who I am. “I” am memories and thoughts. This idea is shared.
Mark Lawrence, author of The Broken Empire fantasy series, wrote the following in his second book:
“Memory is all we are. Moments and feelings, captured in amber, strung on filaments of reason. Take a man’s memories and you take all of him. Chip away a memory at a time and you destroy him as surely as if you hammered nail after nail through his skull.”
Brian Falkner wrote the following in his book, Brain Jack:
“We are our memories,” Dodge said. “That’s all we are. That’s what makes us the person we are. The sum of all our memories from the day we were born. If you took a person and replaced his set of memories with another set, he’d be a different person. He’d think, act, and feel things differently.”
We seem to be a list crazy nation. We need the top ten ways of doing everything. Several studies I’ve read and lists I’ve happened across about successful ways of making oneself happy include meditation and reflection. This makes sense to me. It is nice to shut everything else out for a while.
My memories are who I am.
If you need me,I’ll be out making some good ones.