It was customary for Master and Student go spend time each day
walking along the paths that wound through the mountains
around the monastery. One day, while Master and Student were
out walking, they came upon a cliff edge. Master boldly
stepped to the very edge of the rock and gazed lovingly at
the valley below and the surrounding mountains. He then
turned to Student, who was standing quite safely back from the
edge of the cliff, and said “Come closer so that you can
see the beauty that is all around us.”
“No thank you Master,” replied the student nervously. “I can
see quite well from here.”
“Nonsense,” said Master. “You must come closer.”
“But I may fall. Please Master, I am afraid.”
“Trust me,” said Master. “I would not ask you to do anything
that would harm you. Now come closer.”
Slowly the student edged toward the cliff. As he reached the
edge, Master smiled and put his arm around Student. “There,”
said the Master. “Is it not a beautiful view?”
“Yes, Master,” admitted Student. “It is quite beautiful. I
did not know the valley was so far below our monastery. It
is quite a drop to the valley below.”
“It is not so far,” replied Master. “Here at this cliff you
need but take a single step to reach the valley floor.”
“But Master,” insisted Student. “The drop from here is great.
If I stepped out here, I would surely die from the fall.”
“You will learn that the distance between life and death
is but a single step,” Master told him. “Our life is one
long series of steps. We go through life, step over step until
one day we die.
“Each step brings us great joy and adventure as well as the
possibility of death. But you can not simply stand still in
fear of meeting death upon the road. Walk boldly along the path
of life. Enjoy the wonders that are there for us all to see.
So that when the day comes when you you do meet death, you will
know that you have not shrunk from life, but embraced it.”
If you payed attention especially to the last few seconds of the above scene, you would have seen where the character drowns. Not an accidental drowning mind you but on purpose. Not an easy task when you are conscious as the body will try to prevent water from entering the lungs even when you have had to hold your breath for a very long time. The pharynx will try to close and keep this from happening, one would pass out from lack of oxygen first.
But if you looked closely, you would have seen where the character was conscious and forced herself to breath in the water at least two times and maybe three times before going into full arrest. A choice. Now you can judge the scene a number of ways. Escape was impossible, gave up too early etc.
However outside of that and not judging think about it if you can. The likelihood of survival was very low but not yet zero. She had a choice to wait until she passed out or take an action. Rarely are we given the chance to make such a choice. Everyone of use will die at some point, sooner or later. We hope that it is much later but we can never know…..not ever. Life is one long series of events over which we have little – if any – control. We like to think we have control, we tell ourselves we do. But we don’t. Did the character know that her actions would in all likely hood result in her death ? We cannot know for sure but making such a decision would to my mind mean she had some understanding of the situation. So she must have known that this meant she would likely die.
The character above had a unique opportunity. One which few of us have and when we do will almost always never take advantage of. She chose to take an action regarding the end of her life. We want choices but only those that suit us. We want life to be what suits us. We want death to come not at all or be a pleasant surprise but in the last seconds we still judge it and the circumstances.
We spend nearly all of our lives judging life, those in it and the circumstances around it. We hardly ever appreciate it. We hardly ever really experience life and what it means to be alive even as we die.We spend an ungodly amount of energy and time to get as much as we can and appreciate very little of what we get.
The health care industry is particularly guilty of this, running at full speed trying to give us longer lives but taking away what it mens to be alive at the same time. Embracing every moment for good or ill.
As William Shakespeare said, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” It is said we have this innate fear of death but I wonder if we fear life almost as much.