A few years back I saw a man die.
It was a very existential experience.
It was a warm, summer day and I had just left Grand Central Station. I was making my way downtown, walking of course, as I often do. I find that it affords me the opportunity to observe people, places and life as it happens--something I feel that is essential to cultivating my own existence.
I was not far from where I had started when I saw a man collapse on the sidewalk.
He was alone. But at the same time not at all.
He was a middle-aged, silver-haired man who was simply waiting for a bus.
There was nothing that stood out about him. He was wearing a pair of plain, non-pleated beige Dockers, and a canary yellow polo shirt. Tucked in. And he stood, patiently, and alone.
The crowd of strangers that surrounded him was in awe of such a happening. As if they had been jerked back to a reality where in fact, people do die. I couldn’t help but feel the same at that very moment.
We live in a world where we hear about death and destruction on a daily basis. The media never lets us forget that. But to see it happen is something very different. If we were to think about the possibility of death or perhaps even our own demise on a regular basis, there is no doubt we would drive ourselves into the arms of insanity.
But this man, this unassuming, simple man, was the unfortunate recipient of a fateful reminder of the power of life. More precisely, the power it has to be taken away from us.
And in that instant, we were all reminded of the tragic, duplicitous nature of life as well.
As easily as it comes, is as easily as it goes.
I watched helplessly as two men of a crowd of twenty attempted to revive the simple man. Who was without a doubt—alone.
For almost thirty minutes the man lay there, motionless. All attempts had failed. And all around us and in the distance the world continued to turn and nothing changed. At least on the surface...
I couldn’t help but be reminded of something a friend once told me. When someone dies it is not without significant importance. One person has the capacity to reach out and affect thousands and thousands of people. This man, whose final chapter had just been written, will be in the book of life for his family, their family, friends, their friends and countless other people whom are all interconnected whether they know it or not.
I would like to think that death is just as important as life. And just as with transit, there are many stops we make on our way to the final destination. And along that ride, people get on and off; sometimes without notice. But reach out if you can and realize that along this ride we are all on, the people we meet, and their lives are what make the ride more enjoyable and more meaningful than it could ever be if we were riding alone.
This is the nature of death and transit.
Posted by G. Shaw at 1:00:00 PM