I just saw The Professor: a movie where Johnny Depp plays a dying professor living the last days of his life after a cancer diagnosis. It’s got me thinking a lot about mortality, so if you’re not in the mood for a depressing read about accepting death, you should probably go read something else.
I think that Depp’s character’s nonchalance regarding his impending demise is commendable; he doesn’t tell his family until the last possible moment because he doesn’t want to upset them, he lives his life the way he always wanted to, without the constraints of society to hold him back. Yes, he’s a hard-drinking, nihilistic douche, but let’s be real here: you would be too.
I think about death a lot, not in a suicidal sense, but as more of a curiosity. I wonder what happens when the light fades from your eyes and you pass on. I’ve wondered if you’re greeted by someone who loves you, or if you have to make the transition to whatever’s next alone. I’ve thought so much about it, but I’m not in a rush to find the answer. People die. It happens, you can’t do anything about it, and it’s not up to you to decide who goes when, so just suck it up and accept it. You’re going to die someday, keep that in the back of your mind when you’re killing yourself trying to extend your life.
Johnny Depp, as I will refer to every one of his characters, really spoke to me in this movie. He’s been a tight-knit stiff for the majority of his life, but with the end within spitting distance, he goes off the rails and starts living life the way he always wanted to. I wish I had half the balls his character had. He says everything that people are thinking, but too cowardly to say out loud, and part of me respects that, but the other part of me just sees a scared man making sure that he has no regrets when it’s all over. He burns bridges at work, while still keeping his family intact for as long as he can. He bonds with his daughter and teaches her a valuable lesson on love. He rebuilds his relationship with his wife a little, before leaving so they don’t have to face his impending doom. This movie is about accepting life the way it is, and not how you want it to be. Your life isn’t going to go as planned, no matter how many fucking smoothies you drink or how many self-help workshops you attend. His sense of apathy is almost commendable, he doesn’t let anything get to him, not his cheating wife, his failing marriage, his shallow job with uninterested students, or his impending death. Late in the movie, Depp offers advice to one of his students, advising her to write the story of her life the way she wants, and that stuck out to me. This might not be the best movie ever made, or even the best movie Johnny Depp has done in the last decade, but I enjoyed it, and would recommend it.
Death probably is the end of your existence, but it doesn’t sound too bad. You won’t be conscious of the nothingness, you won’t get bored of the blackness, you won’t see the effect you leave behind, if there is any, so why are people so scared of dying? I think it’s because we don’t think it’ll happen to us. I’ve long come to terms with my mortality, I know that someday I’m going to drop, and the people who love me are going to be crushed, and I don’t like that, but what am I supposed to do about it?