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Recommend a sensitive movie, many people may not dare to watch it!

“The Deep Sea Sleeps” is a Spanish film based on a true story and has been awarded an Oscar. It depicts the narrative of Raymond, a man who was paralyzed and spent 26 years seeking death.

From a cinematic perspective, the film runs contrary to the values of “surviving adversity with a disabled body”, which are often advocated. Rather, it imparts a sense of gravity and solemnity, compelling its audience to confront mortality. As a result, many individuals choose to forgo the film after simply watching the introduction.

However, in my estimation, this film holds significant reflective and discursive value. Through the 26-year struggle of a dying person, it declares that life is a right, not an obligation. Only when one understands and personally implements this tenet can they become the true master of their existence, permitting the flower of life to fully bloom.

The protagonist of the film, Raymond, is a highly paralyzed man. At the age of 26, he was paralyzed and rendered incontinent after a diving accident. His consciousness remained only from the neck up. Following the incident, he was no longer able to care for himself and was sent to his brother’s home.

Over the following 26 years, he received attentive care from his elder brother’s family. His elder brother relinquished his job as a seaman to become a farmer at home to care for him, while his sister-in-law assumed the role of “mother” and tended to his daily needs. The elderly father and young nephew often conversed with him and performed tasks on his behalf. Whenever Raymond celebrated his birthday, numerous friends would visit his home to celebrate with him. In the neighboring village, a single parent named Rosa was moved by his experiences and humor after seeing him on television.

She took the initiative to visit Raymond’s home and shared her tragic past with him while attempting to provide him with positive energy. She expressed her willingness to remain by his side and care for him. It is evident that despite Raymond’s paralysis and confinement to bed, he still experienced the warmth of family, friendship, and love. This is a true blessing in misfortune. From an outsider’s perspective, Raymond should feel grateful and inspired by the love and care of those around him, becoming an inspirational role model for the disabled. However, this is not Raymond’s true state of mind.

In truth, from the moment he regained consciousness after being paralyzed, he had only one thought: to die. He wished he had died in the sea that day rather than being revived and enduring his present state. However, he was unable to act on his desires as he was paralyzed and unable to move his entire body except for his head. He did not possess the ability to commit suicide.

In accordance with Spanish law, if his family and friends assisted him with suicide, they would be arrested and charged with “murder”. During this time, his elder brother attempted to persuade him with familial affection, Rosa attempted to retain him with love, and even some compassionate individuals within society attempted to influence him with positive energy. Nevertheless, Raymond remained unswayed and persisted in his quest for death. He repeatedly applied for euthanasia from the government but was repeatedly denied.

In such a way, he persevered for 26 years amidst the anguish and agony that remained incomprehensible to others. Despite receiving immense love and care, why did Lei Meng persist in his pursuit of death? It is a question that many people fail to grasp, including myself; at first, I couldn’t fathom the reasoning behind it. Yet, with the arrival of Julia in the film, I gradually discovered the answer to this question. Julia, a lawyer who suffers from a degenerative disease that has caused partial loss of mobility and a limp, volunteered to help Raymond attain his right to euthanasia out of compassion. To better understand her client, she moved into Raymond’s home and spent countless days and nights with him. During this time, she marvelled at Raymond’s audacious travels around the world at the tender age of 19, and was deeply entranced by his extraordinary talent. In turn, Raymond, through his profound conversations with Julia, basked in the joy of being understood, appreciated, and comprehended.

Often, he would unconsciously slip into a fantasy where his spirit would leave his body, and he would rise from his bed and walk over to Julia to kiss her, savoring the pleasures of man and woman. Unfortunately, in reality, he was unable to move his body and remained completely unconscious. Longing for love, yet unable to experience the joys of physical intimacy, this was the helplessness inflicted upon Raymond by his physical disabilities, and it was the “first sharp sword” that severed his will to live. Once, when Julia was traversing a staircase, she suddenly collapsed with a loud thump. Lei Meng lay on his bed, fraught with anxiety, yet unable to take a single step, leaving him with nothing to do but call for help repeatedly. Julia suffered from recurrent strokes, causing her to faint unpredictably, which could lead to a vegetative state at any moment, or even death. Despite being severely ill, Julia recognized Raymond and resolved to die alongside him. “I will go to a publishing house to publish your collection of poems. When your first collection of poems comes out, I will bring it back and leave with you.”

As a result, Julia kept her promise to publish and send Raymond’s collection of poems to him. However, she chose not to join him and instead opted to spend her remaining days with her family. Longing to be together yet unable to unite, this was the powerlessness that consumed Raymond’s spirit, and it was the “second sharp sword” that severed his will to survive. A missionary who was also paralyzed at a high level, upon learning of Raymond’s resolve to die, spoke out on television, “It must be that his family and friends did not provide him with enough care, which led to his negative thoughts.” This statement not only slandered Lei Meng’s sister-in-law, who wholeheartedly tended to his needs, but it also incensed his brother, who abandoned his career for Lei Meng, and even invisibly denied those friends who had silently stood by Lei Meng’s side, offering encouragement and care.

Accepting love and gifts from those around him, yet unable to reciprocate, and even causing harm to others – this was the pressure that weighed heavily upon Raymond, stemming from the misunderstandings of the outside world, and it was the “third sharp sword” that severed his will to live. These three sharp swords pierced Lei Meng’s body and mind relentlessly for 26 years, leading him to deeply comprehend that a life without freedom was not a life worth living. As such, he proclaimed to the world time and again, “If I cannot live with dignity, then I would rather choose to die with dignity!” In the film’s final moments, with the aid of Rosa, Raymond chose to end his life with a glass of poisoned water.

In the real world, Raymond’s character prototype, Raymond Sampedro, concluded his life on January 12, 1998, in an apartment situated 25 kilometers away from his home, so as not to burden his family and friends. Unable to move, he required assistance to place the medication within his reach. At the time, police detained Ramon’s friend, Ramona, on suspicion of assisted suicide. However, upon the news of Raymond’s death, more than 3,000 people spontaneously signed a petition, claiming that they had assisted in the death of Raymond Sampedro. Ultimately, Ramona was released due to insufficient evidence.

This is the tale of a paralyzed man who spent 26 years striving to die. He fought ardently for the right to life and death, attained liberty through death, and bestowed freedom upon his family and friends. Raymond was not a dying man who had lost his will. He lived a bustling, active life, wholeheartedly championing his right to die. What I gleaned from his story was not the melancholy, despair, and burden that death brings, but the profound love for life that lies beneath it. Namely, he knew precisely what he wanted, and he was equally certain about the kind of lifestyle he wished to lead.

Once, Julia inquired of him, “What sentiments do you harbor for the sea?” He replied, “I still cherish the sea. When I yearn to see it, I focus and envision myself strolling towards it.” At the age of 19, he embarked upon a voyage across the sea while working as a ship repairman, journeying across the globe and befriending people from all walks of life. What he truly craved was the ability to lead an active life, to marvel at the vastness of the world, and to embrace the woman he loved; rather than passively existing, confined to his bed year-round, bereft of liberty, and unable to reciprocate his family’s love. As I pen this, I cannot help but recall the moment my grandmother passed away 18 years ago.

At that time, my grandmother was nearly 90 years old and had been paralyzed due to an accidental stroke. She lay motionless on her bed, unable to speak, with only her eyeballs capable of movement. Several sons and daughters wasted no time in abandoning their work and rushing back from afar, remaining by her bedside day and night to care for her and prolong her life as much as possible. I shall never forget the last time I visited my grandmother – she gazed at me with wide eyes and stared at me for an extended period, as if she had much to express, and as though she wished to etch my visage into her memory. She passed away several days later.

It is said that one night, she summoned all her strength to quietly remove her oxygen tube, leading to her brain’s death by hypoxia. Yes, like Raymond, she opted to end her life on her deathbed after being paralyzed. Today, I finally comprehend the way my grandmother gazed at me – it was a form of respect for death, a genuine appreciation for life, and a profound love and blessings for those who still live! For what she truly desired was to lead an active life and share the joys of living with her children and grandchildren; rather than passively existing, enduring bodily pain while burdening her children.

Life is not merely the agony of moaning without ailment, but the ability to think clearly in the face of suffering. A person often discovers the true meaning and splendor of life when they are on the brink of death. Raymond Sampedro spent 26 years in bed, struggling to convey to us: Life is a right, not an obligation. Just like the scenery he viewed for the final time in the film: verdant jungles, azure skies, fluffy white clouds… mischievous children, teenagers on bicycles, couples holding hands, puppies mating, hardworking farmers, and the elderly woman sitting atop the haystack… and the windmills spinning, one, two, three… Finally, the entire vista gradually revealed itself, with a large group of windmills swaying in the wind… brimming with vitality, almost overflowing from the screen.

Who would be so fixated on death if they had not experienced such a cruel encounter that robbed them of their freedom of movement? If not for their deep love and sense of duty towards their family and friends, and their reluctance to burden them, who would resolutely choose to depart? What is the meaning of life? I still lack an answer to this query.

However, compared to Raymond Sampedro’s experience, I have a profound realization: we still possess healthy limbs, which we can use to explore the world and stroll towards what we desire; we still have healthy hands, which we can use to earn a livelihood independently and create the life we yearn for; we still possess the right to lead an active life, and we can select the kind of attitude with which we wish to live… Isn’t this a form of fortune? Based on this fortune, what can we do for ourselves?

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