Below is a piece of flash fiction with a explanation following. I think it could prove instructive to see all of the thought that went behind a 500 word story.
Life Is Beautiful
Falling is about as close to flying as a human can ever get. Other than the final second, there is little difference. I can hear the air rushing through my ears, feel all of the sensation as it plays upon my skin. There is an intensity to it that I have never experienced before. Every single cell of me is alive, thrillingly, gloriously alive.
It’s funny how extremity brings things into focus, slows the rapid flow of time to a near standstill. I appreciate now every scrap of life that has been given me, although scant moments ago life was something I was quite anxious to throw away. I realize now what a precious gift it is that was mine to do with as I chose. The simplest things fill my heart with the most exquisite joy: the endless waves lapping on the shore and the mysterious force that moves them forward. Birds spiral above me, fulfilling purposes I’ll never understand. I feel a kinship with them, feel a kinship with every living thing on earth. Even now I have time to ponder the mysteries of the universe. Funny how I lived a lifetime in darkness. Funny how I walked an endless path of routine.
But now I experience life as it was meant to be experienced. The desire that I should be able to convey these ideas to the person I was a moment ago flits briefly through my mind until I let it go, realizing now there is no more time for regrets. What I could have or should have done is of little importance to me now. Every regret I have ever had flees from me like rats from a sinking ship.
I have been given a gift. In the scant seconds since I decided to end my life, the beauty of life has been shown me. What damnation my decision headed me towards has been erased as I head towards my end. And I realize that whatever bad decisions we make are not the final answer. Life has always been short, been insufficient for all the things I wanted to do with it. It has always been about what to do with the time given to you. And in this final moment, I shall spend it glorifying what time I have left. My eyes take in all the beauty of the waters below me, the sun reflecting from a thousand facets the jewel that is the ocean. How far away now the darkness and despair that made me toss myself from the bridge above. It’s seems odd to say, but I was quite a different person back then. The seconds stretch in the intensity of my vitality.
And for a moment I have experienced the miracle of life. Mysteries become obvious to me. The simple and the complex are aligned so that I see a grand order to existence. Answers appear that make my deepest questions seem quite absurd and small. The answers aren’t, never were, things you could find in a book. But now I—
I guess the first thing I want to point out is the enormity of time which seems to pass in what would actually be only a couple of seconds. It has been often mentioned that time tends to slow down when in a crisis situation. I’m thinking of the song Ballet of the Impact by Spock’s Beard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEx8wgqpcKE but I’m sure there are thousands of examples. Seneca said Life is long if you know how to use it. I guess the point I want to make is that we can spend vast amounts of our lives not really living, and so when we look back on those stretches, we remember little of them. But those precious moments we feel truly alive we recall in great detail. It is a matter of quality mattering more than quantity.
Another aspect to this story is the human tendency to become stuck in a negative thought process and the dramatic circumstances that are sometimes required to shake us out of them. Life IS at its roots a miracle, but we can be so involved in the overarching flow of our own lives that we forget that we are a part of something much larger and that just to be a part of it for an instant is an awesome thing.
Somewhat tied to the last topic and yet different is the idea of redemption. It is never too late to change the road you are on. Sometimes we feel that it is too late for us, but what we are really saying is we’ve wasted a lot of time. But the past is the past. That is no reason to throw away the present.
Again related to the prior topic, it does not pay worrying about where you are not. It is what you have and where you are at right now that you have an opportunity to appreciate.
I am getting to an age now where more of my life is behind me than in front of me. Time is becoming more precious to me, where I do not want to waste a scrap of it on those things that are of no value to me. I can imagine when I am old that I will realize the moments of my life are like a handful of sand, a finite amount. When I get to that point, I do not wish to be in a panic worrying about what to do with them or wishing I had more. I hope to be able to savor them, to truly feel the amazingness of what I have lived through.
I hope my little blog post was worth the time it took to read.
P.S. Another Seneca quote for you: “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”