Stopping TimeWritten by Keith Varnum
Six hundred feet straight down! Nothing to break fall. I've got to switch channels. I don't like my chances on this station. Infused with youthful caprice, I mused to myself about my predicament. Enjoying intense body rush of imminent danger, I was torn between prolonging joy-terror and searching for an escape from my imminent demise.
I'd been in similar dire situations before and I'd always evaded worst. How did I get out of danger before? Quick, you idiot, think! You don't have all day!
The impending disaster pumped my adrenaline-and my memory. I let go, I reminded myself. That's what I did in past situations. I just let go of having to control whole thing. I released my need to be right about how life operates. I allowed picture to change. That's when circumstances shifted and something unexpected, seemingly impossible, occurred. Let channel switch, Keith! I coached myself into letting go into safety once again. Averting most probable outcome, I robbed death of its prey yet another time.
Yes, rather unceremoniously, I was reminded of natural malleability of physical universe by a six-hundred-foot free fall straight down a sheer cliff. The threat of a perilous plunge into empty space re-impressed on my young mind lessons I learned in similar predicaments: go with slide on ice rink, relax into tackle in football and turn toward skid in car. Now I call it "the decision to surrender." Back then, I called it "just letting go."
I was fourteen. My girlfriend Cheryl and I decided to go for a hike down a precipitous gorge in upstate New York. We had most of crisp spring day to play before reporting to work as dinnertime servers at a local restaurant. The trail was winding and steep. Three hours later, we arrived at bottom of granite and shale canyon.
After spending an afternoon swimming in rippling stream, it dawned on us we didn't have enough time to hike back up zigzagging trail to top and get to work on time. We concluded we could still make it back to our job deadline if we climbed straight up vertical cliff.
Ascending steep cliff turned out to be quite easy. Protruding from sheer granite wall were small rock ledges as easy to climb up as rungs on a ladder. Within thirty minutes we were twenty feet from top. We would have been home free, except that previous night's rain had soaked soil near crest, loosening shale ledges. As we neared top, each time we placed a foot or hand on next rock outcropping, shale broke away from cliff. Very quickly, we found ourselves frantically moving our hands and feet from one shelf to another, searching for something solid to support us in order to clamber up last few feet to safety.
With total panic on her face, Cheryl looked over at me-a silent plea for guidance screaming over space between us. I didn't know what to do next. I had no answers. Like her, I'd also run out of ledges within reach to grasp. I felt myself beginning to slide down cliff.
Suddenly, my whole life flashed in front of my eyes! It was like watching a movie being projected a few feet in front of me. During first second of my descent into abyss, I re-experienced every major positive event of my life in full, living color, including all emotional and physical sensations of each incident. I re-lived every significant birthday party, picnic, vacation, romantic date, school honor, sports achievement and family celebration of my short life. This vivid, comprehensive review was very rich and satisfying. Considering my precarious situation, an incongruous aura of calm and fulfillment swept over me.
Poetry to help in bereavement.Written by Malcolm James Pugh
When I wander in countryside, Or when water runs quite near I feel you are there somewhere I feel there is more than me here I suspect and sense Im not alone But in presence of quiet power Sometimes I see it at sunset, Others caught up in a shower. Any time Im alone with nature, And my senses are subdued If I relax my attention And Im not prone to brood Then suddenly I know theres more Than I can directly perceive, In whistling of breeze, In rustling of leaves, And wonder if my old friends, Are still living after all, Just somewhere else entirely, Out of reach and out of call, I know at times though beyond reason There is more than meets eye, Another meaning to seasons, Another twinkling in my eye, As if just out of vision, At a place of perfect prayer You may be guard over me, Whenever my friends are not there, And finally when I have to leave here I will be not be so alone, For ill have my favourite guardian To safely steer me home.
I look down and see you frown, Alone and lost and bereaved, I sense hopeless and helpless, And doubters of all they believed, You cant conceive that I would leave, And not be there for always, Yet I am not there any more, And never will be all your days, Its hard to allow Im not there now, Just like I have always been, But I cant get in touch conventionally, Out of hearing and unseen, Lost to touch and as such, Effectively gone and passed away, But I can speak to you sometimes, Just in a different way, It may be happiness in a sunset, It may be tinkling at water flowing, It may be coincidences always coming, Or flashbacks in time always going, It may be saving you from danger, As if by a whim or circumstance, For I watch out for you now, And your luck isnt down to chance, So Im not so very far away, As you would think or believe, Im just invisible to eye, Or any sense you can conceive, But though you cant perceive me, And think me gone dont cry, For one day youll be with me, And one day you will know why.
I cant believe that ill never see, The person that was always there for me, The one who always had a smile, On days when others run a mile, Who listened to my boring tales, And supported me when I felt frail, Who always put me first before, They would think of having more, Who if they had only one would laugh, And faultlessly would give me half, Yet now they arent there any more, Who I could touch and see before, i cant phone and hear their voice, I dont even have choice, Theyre gone and I cant take it in, Ill never see them laugh or grin, So I hope they know I really cared, All time that they were there, I wish id said more instead of mimed, But I thought wed have much more time, So if you can hear me now at last, I cant change things done and past, But I can tell you that now I know, All debts I really owe, And all words I should have said, Are still all here inside my head, All you will ever need to do, Is look inside me to see theyre true.
Life and Death.
Where do we go when we die, Is there something there we cant perceive, Maybe others would not have to cry, If they saw just what can be achieved, They say some religions see us weighted, Like a deep sea diver whilst alive, And that afterwards we are liberated, And light enough to float accross skies. Perhaps if mourners could once see, We pass from pain and age and endless toil, Onwards to a state of pure tranquility, And not just burned or interred under soil. Perhaps accepted means of disposal are harsh, In relation to our true form and destination, Perhaps really down here we flounder in a marsh, Wheras afterwards we are but free sensation. Most visions of near death encounters, Only mention painless progress towards light, So when it eventually seeks to surmount us, Why fear darkness or endless night. Those left behind have hardest task, To try to make sense of what is gone, To accept we arent there any more to ask, To realise our last glimmerings have shone, I treasure my friends in flashback memories, Often jolted into view causing a tear, I cant understand just where theyve gone, And why they are not still here, It seems inconceivable they werent spared, I wish Id said more when they breathed, But I just hope they know I cared, Even though I dont know why they had to leave. I know in part some of my heart, Wonders, through their untimely parting, When my own final fate will start, And realisation is soon darting, That one day, someday, it will be me, That others will see instead of them, That it will inevitably finally be, That I join ranks of mortal men.
Perhaps they sense me now and feel pity, That I have to struggle on on earth, Whilst they live in enlightened cities, Lit by happiness and filled with mirth, Maybe hell is here and now and grieving, And heaven is where you go when you die, Maybe we should be happy at their leaving, Maybe they look at US and want to cry. Whatever truth after our youth, Fades away until end of days, We shouldnt waste forever seeking truth, Shouldnt ever analyse lifes tragic ways, Surely if they can see you and me, They would reach down and dry our eyes, They would want us to be happy again, And not wander forever traumatised, If you were they and saw way, You seemed to them way down below, You would want to reluctantly say, I must move on even though I know, That Ill never ever hear their voice, Never see them and never touch their face, For its what would be their choice, If they could only tinker with our fate. It wont happen in just an hour, Or just a day or just a year, But one day it will sit easier,