OTWC #014: I Nearly Died Today
I nearly died on my Deliveroo journey today. I turned a blind corner going faster than I should’ve done, crossed the central line, and was greeted by an Audi SUV. My bike gave out under me, and as my bike skidded to the side of the road, the Audi screeched to a halt in front of me, blinding me with it’s ultra-white xenon bulbs.
Thankfully, I just have a small graze on my knee.
I stood up and looked at the driver.
“I nearly died,” I said, smiling and happy to be alive
“Are you alright?” the driver said.
“Yeah, I only *nearly* died”
I couldn’t contain my jubilation. I’m *not* dead. I get to spend another day on this incredible planet that we call home!
Death’s been on my mind a lot recently, partially due to my re-reading of Slaughterhouse Five, and also because I have “memento mori” scrawled across my phone’s lock screen.
“Memento Mori” is a Latin phrase that translates into “Remember You Will Die,” whilst this seems morbid it’s meant as a life affirming phrase. To remember death is to remember to *live,* to be grateful for each day and to not waste the time that you’ve been given.
When I first head the phrase I was smitten with it.
As a kid I loved the idea of immortality, to be able to live forever would mean that you got to see the future of everything and watch as the human race progresses into a sparkling future (hopefully). That was until I remembered that I had to die.
There’s a film by Ridley Scott, Troy. Now Troy is fucking rad and you should totally check it out if you’re into historical action films (Think *Gladiator,* Kingdom of Heaven, Brave heart) but the reason why I’ve bought it up in today’s essay is when Achilles (played by Brad Pitt) is talking a Trojan woman he’s just captured (and bedded).
“Did you know that the God’s envy us?” Achilles tells his sated concubine, “The envy us because with death everything becomes beautiful”. This isn’t the exact quote but it’s close enough. It’s only because of our finite perception of time that we can appreciate things. I mean, imagine literally living forever.
You’d get incredibly bored, you’ll have done everything. You’d see people make the same mistakes, you’d see the same trends come and go, you’d see wars, you’d see people fall in love, you’d see the seasons change… and soon you’d have seen everything.
We rush…well I rush because I’m worried I won’t be able to fit all of life into my (as long as I stop cycling like an idiot) statistically probable 55 more years. There’s so many things that we can do, so many foods to eat, so many moments to experience, so much adventure to be had!
LISTEN: In Slaughterhouse Five, Billy Pilgrim gets captured and put into a zoo by the Tralfamadorians, an alien race that exists in the fourth dimension. This means that they can move freely through time. To them, death is just another moment that they can experience. In the same way if you’d want to change the channel on TV, the Tralfamadorians can change when they’d like to experience. I wonder what my life would look like to them.
A phrase I’ve heard recently is “Amor Fati” or “The Love of Fate”. It was used by Nietzsche (I’ve only read 3/4 of *Thus Spake Zarathustra*) as an answer to his reason for accepting life. He imagined a scenario in which a demon curses you to experience your life over and over and over and over, how would you feel about that?
Nietzsche's point wasn’t that life should be enjoyed constantly, it wasn’t a life-affirming saying like Memento Mori. Instead it was a way of expressing his appreciation for the absurdity of life. Kind of like in Slaughterhouse Five, the narrator talks about how weird it is that we use the phrase “That’s surprising” when we have such a small about of actual life data to pull from.
I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this.
Life, and the absurdity of it, is something that begs to be appreciated. The bad times mean that there can be good times. You have to be cold to enjoy the heat. You have to have been poor to enjoy being wealthy. You have to be a Deliveroo rider to appreciate life.
This time last year I was horribly depressed and now with hindsight, I wish I’d appreciated it more. I wish I’d used it to *make* something, even if it was a painting or a shitty drawing, I wish I’d done something with it.
From depressed to not yet dead, what a year it’s been.
I wish this was a more cohesive essay, I feel like the logic here is specific just to me and that I haven’t explained all the necessary references. But, to be fair, we have managed to cover Kurt Vonnegut’s seminal work, Nietzsche, Stoic Latin phrases, *and* the films of Ridley Scott in close to 1,000 words so that’s something.
Total Words: 853
Rules of the 1,000 word challenge:
1. I write till I reach 30 minutes or 1,000 words
2. I have to post without editing
3. I can’t write about pre-determined topics (but sometimes I can)
4. If I miss a day, I need to make up for it later
5. I’ll come up with more rules later