Sunday, 2 September 2007

Tangent of Death


Can we cheat death? What exactly takes place in one single nanosecond between walking across and staying put, turning left and turning right, life and death? Where is the exact tangent of life and how many times in a life time do we pass a nanosecond close to it?

I ponder this question every now and again.

I asked myself this question after seeing ‘Final Destination’, the psychological thriller about a group of teenagers cheating death by stepping out of a plane minutes before take off due as a result of a premonition and yet get caught one by one in freak accidents. The movie made me ponder the issues of fate, life, death and divinity. If our time has come, can we really cheat death? Or do we merely postpone it for a while, not knowing it is just around the corner, sniggering at our mortal folly?

I asked myself this question when a van cut into my lane, denting my car, on a February morning. What if I had left the house a little earlier? What if I had not stopped at the gas station to get the morning paper? What if I had left something home and had to go back for it? Or is contemplating all the ‘what ifs’ we may come to find in everyday situations futile and foolish? Will all that is meant to be really be, regardless of how many things we could have done differently?

I asked myself this question once again, while in Turkey, after an early morning phone call from one of my aunties, informing us of the accident my cousin had been in. She had been out for dinner with friends, enjoying herself until she got a headache. Thinking it would be best to go home and sleep it off; she announced that she’d call it a night and call a cab. A friend told her it was pointless to get a cab when his chauffeur driven Jaguar was waiting outside. As she got into the car, little did she know that on the way the car would be crashed into from behind, fly off the road and into a tree and come crushing down and she would suffer serious injuries to her head and her spine. If she had, she would have done her seatbelt. She was sitting in the back; as the car came crushing down, she hit her head on the roof and almost broke her back, falling back on the seat. Horribly battered and bruised, she was rushed into emergency, critically injured.

She has since gone through four operations and spent two weeks in intensive care. She still cannot move her legs and it will take a long time before she will fully recover and get any feeling back in her legs. What if she had called a cab? What if she had done her seatbelt? What if she had got the headache a nanosecond earlier or later? Or if she hadn’t got it at all? Or is ‘what if’ a mere synonym for hindsight?

And I ask myself this question once again as I watch United 93, the story of the plane that did not hit its target on 9/11 and its passengers that fought back… What if the delay in take off from Boston was a little longer? What if the officials had realised the gravity of the situation after the first crash at the WTC and cleared the air space? There are so many ‘what ifs’, or are ‘what ifs’ the only way we humans know how to deal with the aftermath of tragedy? And what about the survivors? The stories we heard time and time again in the first few days after the attacks, of people who had taken the day off, or missed the train because they had to rush back home to change the shirt they had spilled coffee on, or didn’t get to the office in time because they’d ignored the alarm clock just a little longer… Mark Wahlberg, who was apparently a scheduled passenger on United 93 but decided, at the last minute, to visit a friend in Toronto instead…

How many times in a lifetime do we get a nanosecond close to that tangent between life and death? Just how many times in a life time do we miss it by a nanosecond?

25 comments:

Andy said...

Death....guess the best attitude is to take it as a normal event that could happen to anyone anyday anyhow.

Afrobabe said...

I personally dont like thinking about death since there is nothing you can do about it anyway...in the movie "Final destination" the end result was still death even after cheating it...live life happilly cos when its time,its time!

Manda said...

not my kind of talk gurl but i'm loving tha "macy gray's I try" on ur playlist. Howz u?

Ugo Daniels said...

One thing you have to understand in this world is that there's a higher force that governs everything that goes on around here. It's very mysterious but true, we just have to live with it!

pamelastitch said...

hmmmm, oh my gosh, is it weak that i do not want to think about death so early monday morning...

:-(

diary of a G said...

sorry about your car and your cousin, hope he/she gets a fast recovery

awww what ifs! if I would take back a couple nanoseconds, I would have never gone down that street where the cops pulled me over
If only..lol
nice post

Nyemoni said...

If only we knew...Hope your cousin's fine...Nice post but alas! I see no one likes to talk about death! Have a good week girl!

Labelle said...

sorry about ur cuz...To summarize ur post, i'd say the only thing that's for SURE is Death.

Olamild said...

one word - DEEP

A Kel called Wonder ...... said...

Sorry about ur cousin.

True words on the what if's. I guess i have one major what if a day. Thanks for this post madam. Got me pondering.

We must learn to appreciate every moment and the fact that we are alive.

princesa said...

Very thought provoking!
That split nanosecond change change everything! With God by our side we are safe.The evil will always be behind us.
There is a saying tho...
Destiny can only be delayed but can never be changed.

Sorry about ur cousin, ope she turns out ok.

UnNaked Soul said...

I ponder this one too many times, and I have a theory...

You are in the line of travel... we'll bump into each other soonest ;-)

Pelmo said...

It is a mystery on why things happen.

One night forty some years ago I was speeding down a road in Korea and it was past midnight. My partner was sleeping, when he suddenly woke up and told me to stop, and to stop right now. I was glad I did since a chain was stretched across the road and would have cut our heads off. When I asked him how he knew about the chain, he could not explain it. But he did save our lives. So we have to keep wondering, WHY?

Aijay said...

We all know death is inevitable but it's such a sensitive issue to discuss.
I've learnt to live & love life, u never know when death will come knocking at ur door.

...toyintomato said...

death is not my favorite talk, too deep.
i guess , i have no comment on this issue

AN IBO DUDE'S CORNER said...

final destination, i love that movie(1,2)havent seen three

it thought me one thing, u cant cheat death, but u can extend ur stay here on earth sha(....somehow)

princesa said...

UPDATE!

Onada said...

Death scares me. i usually try on to think about it.

Kafo said...

i love your play list
esp. the song by Ocean Drive

Andy said...

It's a scary issue but the best way of dealing with death is not being afraid of it, I guess!
Extend my empathy to your cousin.

ozaveshe said...

saw ur message on my blog. wondering what compilatoin its going to be. u can get to me thru ozaveshe@gmail.com.

death is so serious a topic. dont know if i can contribute meaningfully to ur post today

~Mimi~ said...

hhmmm...

we'll just pray for God's protection everywhere we go...

hope ur cousin is doing ok..

Vickii said...

I don't believe you can cheat death. I personally believe that I'll only die when God has decided it's my turn to.

This is an interesting post .. you're really good at articulating complicated thoughts!

Ugo Daniels said...

Aaaaaargh, when is an update coming? I'm TIRED of always checking ;)

Pug'd-Truth Betold said...

my take is; what is meant to be, will be. and i know its hard to accept this because if this is, then maybe we should all do nothing in life and not even bother to reach for our goals because if what is meant to be will be, then whatever will do wont matter, right? i'd like to say "right", but somehow, i know it isnt. I'd like to say "wrong", but i cant attest to that neither. anyway, for now, i hold on to the belief that "what is meant to be will be" and hope that i am right.
sorry about the accident. Hope you and your cousin are okay