Every day, so many of us walk along the same familiar path down the same familiar road. We see the same people, laugh about the same things as the day before. We go to work, come home and greet our kids. Before we know it, we’ve lived out our working years and live in a retirement home in Arizona. This is what people call a good life. A life that can be boring, but it is consistently good. So we think. Though, we also think that we are predestined to live a certain life from birth. We’re wrong.
Calling our life meaningful is a disgrace. Life is simply a road connecting the two places called “birth” and “death”. There is no scientific evidence for this, but all you need is to think about it a bit, like anyone with common sense. The moment you realize you are on a road trip straight into Death’s arms, your life truly begins. The narrator knows this for a fact.
From that moment on, you savor every factor of life. You savor the smell of fresh cookies straight from the oven. You savor the feeling of your cat’s fluffy stomach that you are forced to rub. You are changed. Every waking hour is a new experience, every face on earth is a new acquaintance. You continue to cross some of the same faces, you become closer and even friends.
This is only the beginning. Just wait and see.
When, by 35, others who have not come upon this realization have found a lover and had their first child, you have smelled the saffron in the streets of Calcutta and flown in a hot air balloon through many mountains and rocks. While others begin to settle into a rhythm, your heart beats on new experiences. Others still begin to become a bit bored, while you wake up every morning ready to face a new adventure.
Of course, this kind of lifestyle that you hold doesn’t come without a price. You, of course, find that your nomadic ways have you unexpectedly leaving in the middle of the night just because you feel like it. You found someone that you liked well enough on a month-long trip to Paris. They left you six months later, claiming that you move around too much, even that you’re so infatuated with your adventurous life that you no longer care about them. You know that none of that is true. But it is too late.
At 45, most people begin to feel their joints going creaky. You, on the other hand, feel the weight on your shoulders growing heavier and your heart growing colder. You grow more short-tempered with other people, so you stay alone most of the time. Now, other people feel this too. This is normal. You see more and more people like yourself, especially people who have not come upon any great realization at all. Finally, you find someone like yourself, crazy yet thoughtful, loving yet distant. Maybe they’re a friend, maybe they’re more than a friend. You’re not sure.
One day, you will do something that all things do. You will die. So, you and your companion begin to become less nomadic, stay in places longer. You go back to Paris, and finally gather up enough courage and energy to hike up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. You visit Pompei, the Himalayas, and Tahiti, for its stunning waters and busy marketplaces. The two of you both know that there will come a time where you feel as if you no longer want to move away, to finally settle down and tame your wild hearts. And so it happens.
Neither of you expected it at the age of 60, but you find yourselves unable to leave the small, white house with the red tiled roof in Cape Town. The sea stretches out before you, and in the distance, you can see another island with another port. You begin to set into a rhythm, though it is different from others. Every day, the two of you walk along the white sand and dip your feet in the clear water. You visit the market at least once a week, and you even find your own little spot along the water that no one really visits. You finally learn your companion’s name, Marcie. Your life is winding down.
At this point in life, you are at that age where you truly reflect back on life, and you once again have a realization. You’re nearing the end of the road of life. Now is the moment where, for once, you decide that you have done enough on this trip, and you are headed back. Or, rather, heading on into a place you do not know. But, one day, Marcie does, and you are once and for all alone.
You’re 75 now, you are the old man who lives on the corner. Some days, you go and do something for once, even if it’s just getting the kids next door a bag of fish and chips or going to get fruit for your snack later. But most of the time, you are wandering around town like a ghost looking for meaning, for answers. The narrator watches this every day, and is getting impatient to cut the thread. Your thread of life.
One night, you go to sleep. Your dreams of past times come back, but throughout the night, they fade, fade, fade away. And by the morning, you are nothing but a pale, cold corpse lying in your bed. You don't remember any of this, of course. It’s kind of like being a young child carried by their parents as they sleep. It happened, yet you were already gone.
Congratulations. You’ve reached the end of the road. So, how was it? Good? Wonderful. Why don’t you settle down? You’re going to be here for quite a while.
It is time for me, the narrator, to reveal that I am Death. Not the metaphorical kind, but just, well… Death. You will walk right into my arms when the time comes. Every life is begun and ended by me… yet, none of them, as I said, have any meaning at all. Unfortunately, no matter how many realizations you have, it will never be that way. All of your friends, your family, even your memories, were created by me. Just like an author, even like a god. Though I am neither of those things.
Don’t believe me? Huh. I guess you didn’t have any realizations after all.