The moment my life flashed before my eyes.
Behind every scar is an untold story of survival
“My whole life flashed in front of me in a second” said Sir Richard Branson when he met with a Bike accident recently.
I went back in time to the point when I was lying on the road just like that. I was reminded of my own thoughts running in my head, my humility, and gratitude I felt then.
So I felt like writing down my own experience of the incident when my whole life flashed in front of me in a second.
I thought to myself, I know exactly what he is talking about, because i’ve been there too.
Lester Burnham in the movie, ‘American Beauty’ describes how your whole life flashes in front of you in a second. One of my favorite scenes.
A Short Preface
In ancient Rome, while a general was returning back victorious from a battle, during his parade (“Triumph”) he received compliments and honors from the crowd of citizens, and to avoid the risk of falling victim to haughtiness and delusions of grandeur, a slave was purposefully stationed behind him to say
“Respice post te. Hominem te memento”
— “Look after you [to the time after your death] and remember you’re [only] a man.”).
Because it REMINDS him, yes, REMINDS him because we so often tend forget the simple fact that our time and lives are limited and that we are gonna die.
Perhaps it is something which we all inherently know but deliberately choose to ignore, because we aren’t comfortable with accepting that we are NOT special.
We live as if we’re gonna be here forever;
The lie we all desperately try to believe with all our strength and might is — “I’m not gonna die, at least not so soon”
We often tend to forget that DEATH IS REAL AND CAN INDEED HAPPEN TO US.
My Story- The Experience
It’s a very humbling experience to have survived in an accident.
I was riding my bike, returning home from college, when I met with the brutal accident that changed my life
Although the experience didn’t leave any fractures or permanent handicaps on me, it certainly had a significant impact on my lifestyle and worldview.
It was already dark by the time i left from college. I couldn’t clearly see the road which was badly damaged. I was riding at about 70 Kmph, and my bike skid uncontrollably in the rubble. As soon as I hit the brakes I knew I was about to fall. I was aware and I could clearly see my life slip away from my grasp.
The moment i realized I was surely going to fall, my thoughts ran wild.
It was more than fear, more than just a simple ‘fear of death’, it’s something which words can never do justice to. I was screaming in my head, “I don’t wanna fall” , “I don’t wanna die” but it was something that’s completely out of my reach and control.
Try as I might there’s no escape from the inevitable.
I felt like my Life(my most prized possession) was being rudely and forcefully snatched away from me and that hard realization that there was nothing I could do, nothing to do with all my strength and tact made me feel helpless.
The sudden realization that I’m about to die, shattered my belief that somehow i have a lot of life to live; my belief that i’m not gonna die so soon was made a lie in an instant and i was forced to come to terms with it.
I’ve read in the newspapers and saw in the TV about people dying horribly in road accidents, but I never expected that it could happen to ME, that it could happen THEN, it could happen SO SOON.
That moment mocked all the grand dreams and hopes I’ve had for life.
I felt an indescribable dread and anxiety.
Moments such as these slap us hard in the face to awake us from the self-centred delusion and materialistic pursuit we find ourselves everyday in, and force us to stay grounded, realise that we are indeed MORTAL.
That we’re food for worms. (Ouch!)
Lessons I’ve Learnt
My accident was the slave that the ancient Romans had, that repeated “Memento Mori” (remember that you have to die”) ;
The fact that the expression asks us to REMEMBER death, is a testament to how often we forget it.
I didn’t expect such a close encounter with death so soon in life.
I used to believe death was something that comes slowly of age or of sickness where we would have all the time in the world to make up our mind to face it.
But accidents such as these are like a guerilla attack, they entirely take us by surprise.
As i lay on the roadside, unconscious, a good samaritan passing by, loosened the helmet from my head, and woke me up .
I realised until then that all the while I was unconscious, i didn’t really “EXIST” per se.
When i woke up, the first thing I realised other than that i’m alive was that I’ve been “DEAD” until then.
My Universe ceased to exist until then. But the world was going on. Everyone was in their own busy-ness.
The fact that I’m not the Absolute Reality struck me hard.
Unknown to me until then, “Aham brahmasmi” was my hidden belief that i held.
Subconsciously I thought and believed that the whole Universe revolved around ME.
I thought to myself, “I am what I make the world to be” , but now i amuse myself of how foolish that thinking was.
Humility and Gratitude
As the good samaritan was taking me home, I cried(literally) for the entire half-hour journey home.
The fact that I almost DIED and came back alive was such an overwhelming and unexplainable humbling experience.
I mourned for the ME that was “DEAD” until then.
Rarely do people get the chance to mourn for themselves.
I cried for the ME that was fortunate to be alive ;
I cried, out of overwhelming gratitude for the second chance at life and the grounding humility that I’m a mere mortal whose life can be .
I’ve grown to be humble and the scars on my body remain as a testament to the battles i’ve fought and won, not out of merit but of Grace.
Every scar makes me who I am. I’m not ashamed of them, they acts as reminders of God’s grace and remind me to be humble.
Life is so beautiful and I’m so grateful, oh so grateful to be alive, to experience the little joys in life and to appreciate the tiny things that make it even more beautiful.
And every now and then, when i look at my scars, they talk to me in a strange language that only I can understand; Only I can… Only I, Oh Only I.
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”