I just want to live. Yesterday I had a near-death experience but it was my own choice. It was not an accident neither was I sick. I plunged down a steep slide at Sun City. During the fall, my eyes were shut to the world. All I told myself was that this slide had been done by many people and no one died yet. I just believed I would not reach the bottom with a broken neck or fractured skull. Even when my body left the slide for a split second and I knew I was free falling, I convinced myself that my back would again kiss the slide.
At the foot of the slide my feet hit the water on the slide and I passed through it. This first slide merely submerged me for a minute. My body reflex shut out the water that covered my face by seizing my breath. That was not the death experience.
Immediately after my friend suggested we go for the second slide which was a dark tunnel. Somehow I feel responsible for not letting my friend meet new girls yesterday. I was his “game blocker.” However, we had both done the first slide, we had more thinks to think of than girls on the beach. This second slide promised more danger but we wanted it.
I went first.
It was dark, so even if I did not shut my eyes, I would see nothing. The tunnel carried me. It flipped and turned and I knew I would be plunging into something terribly unexpected. I knew I was about to feel something I had never felt before. So I held my breathe even before plunging deep into that pool.
I first felt relief, thinking like the first fall that I would soon have my breathe back and the slide would end. However, there was something about this slide. After dunking me in water the first time, the force of falling further pushed me down again a second time. This was when I opened my eyes under water and realized I was really deep under water. I looked up and saw the Sun shining down at me through the water. I have never swum in deep water before but there I was.
My brain functioned still, I don’t know how I didn’t panic but in that moment I remembered the story of a Nigerian my mom told me about some years ago. This young man had gone to swim while schooling in Kenya and that was his end. I knew I was not going to die but I felt that despair, that fear of the unknown. What if I cannot swim back up in time to catch my breath? What if I choke or pull a muscle while trying to drag myself back up?
This situation describes perfectly how I have lived for the past few years. Taking chances that could turn out horribly bad, with little or no certainty I would pack my bags and leave for new experiences.
I exhaled finally! My heart started to beat again and what a relief it was to see the faces of all those strangers at the Sun City Beach front.
At that moment I was grateful to be alive, I smiled at all the strangers around. Someone would think they had something to do with me emerging from that near death experience. Maybe death removes all the divide walls, maybe it actually strips us of our vanity, prejudice, segregation and hatred. Maybe we should all taste death, so we can live and love unconditionally.