Yi Yi ★★★★★

I've been sitting here deleting and re-writing the same words so many times, struggling to encapsulate the deluge of feelings that wash through my cerebrum. I like writing--I generally consider myself to be pretty good at it, in fact--but I struggle deeply when I'm forced to look within myself and record in prose how personal a piece of art is. I have a terrible attention span. It takes a lot to get me to not instinctively reach for my phone and check messages from friends when I'm watching a movie and I usually start to get itchy and antsy when films go on for too long. Oftentimes I'll eliminate distractions as best as I can. I spent 174 minutes with Yi Yi and I could have spent thousands more. There's so much to unpack here: the frequent deliberations on life, death, and aging that feel so much more pertinent once it settles that this was the last film that Yang would ever direct; the lush, textural landscapes of Taipei and Tokyo, capturing a brief moment in time, only to be forgotten by the winds of time; the seemingly universal portrait of a family beaten down by the pressure of modern society, rapidly building towards a separation that can only be described as cataclysmic. I keep coming back to one thing though, which is really just the impermanence of people and how short our lives really are. It can be shocking, upsetting, and discomforting to really try and process how meaningless we are in the grand scheme of the cosmos--our lives exist within a billionth of a billionth of a billion of a billionth of a sliver of time and space, consisting merely of ash and bone spinning for what is seemingly eternity, only to ignite and sputter out at the crest of oblivion. What does it mean to live? What does it mean to die? What's the point in living each cruel, bitter, frustrating day when it's all for nothing in the big picture? Will anybody remember me when I'm gone? This is a universal struggle among everyone--a struggle to truly grasp the fact that none of it matters and that there is no bigger picture, but the greatest freedoms are the ones that come with the most tenuous trials. The greatest freedom in life is to liberate yourself from the fear of totality, from the fear of the end. Accept it. Live in the moment's moment. Dispel and forget grievances and regrets, leave them to fade through the winds at the edge of the universe. Seek pleasure in the mundanity of life, find joy in the lulling chirps of cicadas, the gentle brushing of breeze through leaves, the stillness of time and nature. Everything exists with purpose, once and forever, never and always.

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