A Life in Review

30-Day Flash Challenge, Day 28

 
Photo by Ýlona María Rybka on UNSPLASH.
 

I can feel my legs give out, and I’m falling. The trip to the ground seems to stretch on for an eternity. Some part of me senses the cyclists detected some note of distress and have doubled back towards me.

The thing I find most surprising is how quickly my consciousness expanded, I went from three-dimensional, linear representational thinking to being fully able to see the holograph as my life streams by me. This expansion felt like a poetic symmetry to my last moments alive.


I was walking on Chisholm trail, some cyclist behind me says, “On your left.”

Lately, those helpful announcements have rubbed me the wrong way. I’m 59 going on 84. After COVID-19, my energy has not been the same. Nor has my memory or my thinking. I’m generous when I say, “I had been walking.” Honestly, it was more like a shuffle. And cyclists feel the need to announce themselves as if what, I’m suddenly going to channel Michael Jackson and moonwalk into the other half of the broad sidewalk?

I turn my head, wordlessly acknowledging the cyclist.

He says, “One more behind me.”

Whatever.

I face forward and forget them. My vision begins to narrow, shrink rapidly. I’d ignored this problem for too long, but this time isn’t like my other episodes of a gradual tightening and blurring of vision. This one has an air of finality. The time for addressing this issue has passed; now is the time it has its say.

I’m dying; my brain is shutting down.

My vision narrowed to a point, then blackness. On the far side of “being alive,” my consciousness expanded outward until I felt like an all-encompassing presence.


My back finally hits the concrete. It feels like a gentle tap, one that is happening a thousand miles away and to someone else. Surely that’s not my back; it doesn’t hurt, and I’m vaguely alarmed by the lack of pain and sensation.

My eyes are still reporting nothing but black. I’m blind now. Probably dead as well, but definitely blind. Maybe it’s just a temporary thing? The blindness, not the whole inconvenient dead thing, I think it will be with me a while longer.


“Harr who oh gay?” I hear giants booming from a million miles away.

Are they talking to me?

I feel my arm lifted upwards.

One of the giants is testing for awakeness.

Ahh, they were asking, “Are you okay?”

I want to laugh at this, but I am incapable of the involuntary act.

I want to tell a joke.

“I’m fine,” I want to say. “It’s only a flesh wound. Tis but a scratch.” I want to leave em laughing. Cause I appear to be going, and hey, I may as well tell one more story, one more joke.


I feel something leave me; my consciousness feels holographic.

I see it all, my whole life on replay, frame-by-frame.

But the POV is all wrong; these aren’t my eyes looking outward. No, what I’m seeing is me as viewed by every other person who ever saw me say or do anything. The movie of my life, as seen from others, plays back fast, yet I am aware of every minute detail of each experience.

I’m seeing how others saw me, remembering thoughts I never had.

I’m amazed by this show. Even in my stupid little life, the experience is mind-blowing.

Then I hear them.

The thoughts. Every thought anyone ever had of me as they interacted with me. Friends, strangers, people who I don’t remember ever seeing. A German woman in Wiesbaden watches Jayne and me walk by hand-in-hand. She thinks something very flattering about me.

The man that drove the car crashed into me and broke my femur. He had a lot of thoughts, remorse mostly.


I’m surprised by how many of the thoughts were kind.

Was I still alive; I would use these sensations as a maudlin excuse to shame myself endlessly.

Occasionally, I hear a negative thought. Then I am also privy to their consciousness, and I see those thoughts are merely a reflection of them.

So much understanding pours through me. I surrender myself to the current. I let it wash away every bad feeling I’ve ever had. Is this enlightenment? If some paramedic were to resuscitate me now, would I be able to keep this universe-filling joy with me as I returned to being human?

I have no sorrow, remorse, or regrets. My happiness is all-encompassing as I sense the goodwill in others, observe their and my weaknesses. Everything is made clear.

I’m expanding now; I surrender to it.

The movie of my life continues to play. Every point where I could have said yes, but said no, isn’t an invitation to self-flagellate; it’s another mode of joy.

Over and over, it plays. I feel I will explode from the rapturous energy filling me, filling the universe.

I realize Lester Burnham was right.


“I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me, but it’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much; my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold onto it. And then it flows through me like rain, and I can’t feel anything but gratitude—for every single moment of my stupid, little life. You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure; but don’t worry….you will someday.”

Alan Ball, American Beauty

I keep going, expanding, sliding outward. My speed is limitless. I’ve transcended the physical, no longer bound by physical constraints. I engulf the universe, but then magically, I keep going.

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