Is It Better to Speak or Die ?

I hope this article reaches you in good health, both mentally and physically. I would not say how I feel exactly,  since every day since the beginning of the year seems to be a surprise, but I am healthy, happy and in control of the things I can control. All is well and should be. I am sure that when this article will be posted, I will have started school. I need to say that I spent my summer working with children, watching movies and series, texting my good friends and huh… well, to no surprise, falling more and more in love, is it not what summer is for ? the love of my life, here, but my love-life-altering question remains, however, Is it better to speak or die … 


Anyhow, I watched for the hundredth time a movie that really struck a chord to my emotion and changed my vision of things: Call Me by Your Name. The movie came out in 2017 and is based on André Aciman’s novel by the same name. The independent film stars Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer and various others, and is directed by Luca Guadagnino. For those who never heard about the story or the novel, it is the story of two men who find love and experience it through a hot summer in Italy, 1982. It is nothing atrocious or out of context and it really makes you think and reflect on what love is and how much love can be a bigger and broader subject than what we expect. 

I am not here to talk about the movie or how much it changed me, although it would be interesting to share. I am here to discuss a specific phrase, both in the novel and cinematic film. Elio, portrayed by Timothée Chalamet, is lying on the couch with his parents. The mother is reading them the story of a prince that is madly in love with a princess and so is she. They grow to have a beautiful friendship, and perhaps because of that friendship, the prince finds himself unable to declare his love to the princess. So, one day, out of the blue, he asks the princess: “Is it better to speak or to die?” THAT sentence made me stop the movie. I have heard it in the audiobook and movie, read it in the book but never had it spoken to me more than at that very moment. So, I did ask myself: Is it better to speak or to die?

I dared to ask the question to my mom and some friends and I had so many different answers. I had made it a mission to not specify what exactly it was better to speak of or not, and just wanted people to give their opinion. I did get opinions, a lot of them, but I never did find an answer. It is quite obvious and yet not at all. The only answer I could get out of it is: “it depends on the situation.” It depends on if we are talking about dilemmas in friendships, or we’ve witnessed something that could hurt someone or we heard something that could be beneficial for someone else and the list can go on. However, knowing that the quote comes from a love story, I will keep the focus on that subject; a subject I have not yet mastered and probably never will.

 Love comes in different shapes and sizes. In friendships, and relationships, with colleagues or within the family, the connection from one individual to another is different for everyone. Now, the prince questioned the situation in which he was. He knew how he felt about the princess but did not know how she felt about him. He knew how much their friendship meant to him and how significant it was but there was this zone of incertitude: “do I stay her friend all my life and maybe ache with the feeling of loving her always while someone else will fill that place or do I risk everything to pursue something that may or may not break the friendship?” 

Note that he had to take the followings into consideration: 

  1. the princess says yes and they are happy all their life till death separates them
  2. the princess says yes but somewhere on the line they split and both the romance and the friendship breaks.
  3. The princess says yes but they break up. However, the friendship lasts and they live with the souvenirs of a beautiful romance.
  4. The princess says no and breaks his heart, thus him not wanting to be friends because it is too painful
  5. The princess says no and he sucks it up and they stay friends with no hard feelings
  6. The princess says no and it is too awkward or uneasy between them and that breaks their friendship.

I do wonder if it’s better to speak or to die. I have lived a situation completely similar to this. I crushed on my now boy best friend and was head over heels for him at first. However, because I was getting closer to him, we developed a friendship that became more important to me then the love I felt for him (I am certain that it was the only time in my life that I was in love with another human being that much…). When we reached our last year o high school, afterwards would come Cegep/college and then University and by then I knew that our lives would forever change because we would not be in the same class 5 days a week like we have been for three years now, and go on school trips together and eat at the cafeteria, and even though we live in the same street and neighbourhood, I knew how little time we would have to talk and spend time. The question then was important to me: “Do I tell him how I feel and live with whatever consequences there is or do I shut up and maybe miss out on an epic love story?” November 14th 2014, I asked him to come over because I MUST talk to him. So he does come and we chat for a few minutes and then I tell him EVERYTHING and tell him to let me finish. He told me that he thought I was brave to open up my heart because he knows and feels how hard it must have been and how hard it is. He told me that he did care about me a lot and that I am one of his close friends, should he mention the term best friend and the only girl he really does speak to (truly, he is not a typical “I only talk to you” kind of guy, but a GEM and a shy one and reserved and a geek and the sweetest bean) but that the feeling was not mutual in that way. He said that he wanted us to stay friends and I said “me too” because I truly did. I told him that I felt the need to tell him because I was going to explode even if I sort of knew what his answer would be but I had to know for certain. 

Here we are almost six years later, and I do not regret telling him. Did it hurt? Yes. I did cry for a few months, and my crush on him did continue even after high school because he matured into a man and kept on wowing me with his personality and wit and sarcasm and jokes and love for movies. Now, I know more than ever that I was deeply in love with him, romantically speaking. But, when I look back at everything we lived and even after our teenage high school moments, I wonder if dating him would have changed something. Would we have stayed friends? If not, that would have been more painful to me than anything else. So, why did I need to tell him? What was burning inside me? Had I not spoken, he would have never known, and I would have been a-okay to live with a secret I was sharing with myself for almost 4 years back then. 

I do not know if there will ever be a correct answer for this kind of question. All I know is that I am someone who lives out her emotions by gut feeling. I had to tell him, I wanted to tell him, I needed to know even if I knew the potential answer. It was not about him anymore and yes, I risked our friendship being compromised but I also knew this: “If he really was my friend, then he would take that piece of information as something that happened and will accept it.” Truth is, afterwards, I kept crushing on him – you don’t stop loving overnight ladies and gentlemen – and I am certain he knew, but knowing him, he was too oblivious to it and let it slide as if nothing because it was not going to break our bond. Is it scary to take that leap of faith? Yes, *insert here the f word* yes it is, but honestly, let’s have a real talk. Remember when Y.O.L.O. was a thing? Well, there’s nothing false or weird about it (except that I came to despise people who used it as a form of communication…) but yolo is as real as the sky is blue. “You only live once” and at that moment, I asked myself: “Do I wanna regret the fact that I never spoke” or “Do I wanna remember that moment and take a lesson out of it?”. 

Here I am, almost six years later, living my best life, our friends and him and I laughing about the days where “Seb had a crush on…” and we even talk about it because it’s part of us. So, is it better to speak or die? I don’t know, but I do know that it’s better to live than regret, and at the end of the day when I will be on my death-bed, I don’t want to have flashes of moments where “I could have…”. I want to have flashes of moments where “I did” and despite the failure or the success, it led me to where I am, to who I am surrounded with, to how I lived, laughed and loved, and how I am leaving my legacy behind. 

With all my love,

Seb xx

Thank you for reading this piece of me and hopefully, I will come back with another article. Until then my munchkins, keep on loving one another and being kind, and please go read the articles of the other writers.

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is it better to speak or die
Photo by Kei Scampa

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