05 August 2010

I Died Three Saturdays Ago 我在三星前期死了

“I have never given much thought to how I would die,” wrote Stephanie Meyer in the opening line of her best-selling vampire romance Twilight.




Well, neither have I. But on the ordinary summer morning of July 17, at a busy intersection on Pokfulam Road not 50 feet from my apartment building, my moment of reckoning finally arrived. And in the last few seconds of my life, I realized that death, that ultimate leveler of mankind, was not nearly as fearsome as I had thought. Nor was it as remote...


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Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, on Amazon and at Blacksmith Books.


26 comments:

  1. Great stuff, Jason – very deep. It's true that people in affluent societies can come to take life for granted – hey, we have insurance and advanced health care systems, so why worry, eh?

    At the other end of the scale, you have poor people in developing countries who have to struggle to survive, and who stare death in the eye every day. I can hardly imagine what they're going through...

    Finally you have the terminally depressed, who have a morbid fascination with death, and who while away the hours contemplating suicide in some dramatic and tragically romantic way.

    Funny how it's hard to find a middle ground, isn't it?

    Anyway, I'm glad you got away scot-free. Take care crossing those roads next time!

    Andromeda

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  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Andromeda. It is true: a middle ground between living in the moment versus planning for a uncertain future continues to elude me.

    Jason

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  3. rita veronica leungAugust 5, 2010 at 6:43 PM

    jason, it is a very impressive article, the prelude tells all and so is the title, pplz who had faced death before will enjoy ur story in a profound way

    i faced death like u , i was thinking thats the end of everything, the speeding taxi stopped only 1 feet in front of me .......but it wasnt as terrible as unknown terrible sickness i got for half a year lying on my bed unable to sleep, eat , and breathe properly, blood pressure between 40 to 55, lost 30 lbs , my face turned grey, i even could not cry when i watched my video about sunday brunch with my family eating lobster, my tears spilled out, it was hell everyday,,,,,staying in the hospitals were useless, no one knew wat happened to me, then after i knew the most simple things we r having r so precious, as long as we can eat, sleep or breathe it is a big blessing .

    May God bless u!

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  4. Thanks, Rita, for your personal story. I can't imagine what it must be like to go through a protracted period of illness like that.

    Evidently this is an issue that touches a nerve with quite a number of my readers. Some of them have separately emailed me about their own near-death experiences. It definitely puts things in perspective for me!

    Cheers,

    Jason

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  5. Sorry Jason, I was trying to edit my earlier comment and it was deleted...this is basically what I said:

    As always, a very thoughtful post Jason...I guess it is good to remember our own frailty. I had to smile at the "so much for trying to eat healthy" line...

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  6. I think your story will get a few of us thinking about our own brush with death. I can think of 2 incidents in my life. Truly, it was more than luck than I escaped unscathed. As years goes by, I'm preoccupied and back in the grind and struggle of daily life. Yet, once in a blue moon, I remember and ask myself if whether I am living purposefully.

    How do I know I'm doing the right thing?
    My only gauge is to continue to seek, to be true to myself, to learn
    to live in the moment. Hard to keep in balance some days. We're lucky we can eat healthy and exercise regularly. Most people can't do that.

    There's more places to see, people to know, things to discover. More photography and writing for you.

    Thanks for sharing your insights and observations, it always gets me thinking.....

    -lily

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  7. Hi Jason,

    Thanks for sharing. A wake-up call for everyone to be more vigilant when crossing busy (deadly)streets in Hong Kong (and elsewhere) and to constantly be reminded to refrain from jaywalking; the consequences of which have high probability of no "Take 2".

    In your case, it was either fate or luck that gave you another chance to life which you should treasure. Maybe there are greater things in this world that await you to accomplish. Many people reckon that life is short and that we should embrace those we fondly loved around us; especially our parents, family members and friends.

    Now that you've opened your mind with a detail account of this event that only scratched you on the surface with life-size scare - (the Chinese saying goes: Tai Pou Lam Ko). Over time, you will forget this 'immemorable' incident of three Saturdays ago.....of what it meant to be so close to death gates.

    Life is precious. Let not this isolated incident haunts again nor tarnish your view of the beauty in life around us.

    Stay positive and smile.... They are great healers.

    Cheers,

    Martie

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  8. You summed it up well, Lily. What were your two brushes with death?

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  9. Hi Martie,

    Thanks for the encouragement. I truly hope that there are greater things to come!

    Cheers,

    Jason

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  10. So you are lucky.

    SB

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  11. Dear Jason

    Hv been waiting for yr new article. 1st thing which caught my eyes was the pic of the intersection - coz it seems to be close to where I live.

    Can't agree more that we all live under certain assumptions - and what is even worse is that we always take things for granted. How many of us treasure what we have?! Probably not until we realise we are going to lose him / her / it!

    A week ago, I'd experienced the longest 6 hours in my life - started with a phone call from hospital that my granny had to go through an urgent operation due to emergency, or else she will be gone forever. I cld not register a thing the Dr said except 'You basically have no choice but to decide within the next 30 mins .. Come now to the hospital!". Taxi ride was only 13 mins fm home to hospital on the other side of the island. Glad that I managed to see my grandma outside the OT and offer her my assurance that she'd be fine (while I sensed she wasn't convince at all!)

    A lot of ppl believe fate is something within their control. Yes, to a certain extent. But at one point, one will realise no matter how clever, competent or well-educated he is, there are bound to be things which are completely out of his control! By the time he looks back, he will realise how stupid he has been to battle with the unknowns!

    Thanks again for your sharing! You should take good care!

    MM

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  12. Thanks, MM. I had a similar experience my grandmother when she passed a few years ago.

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  13. Guess I can understand what u meant by "The unspeakable beauty of finality." I was hit by a cab at age 8 head on, have no recollection of what had happened or fear or pain - just lost my brand new two front teeth. 2nd time, almost died from suffocation when someone broke into my apt. To stop me from screaming, he covered my face with his palm. (w/ leather glove on) When I was totally out of oxygen, I thought "This is it, " - blacking out - at the same time - I experienced the unspeakable beauty of letting go. Can death be sweet, when life is but a scream?Closing with Keat's "Our Death" is a most sensitively eloquent finality !

    S.K.

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  14. I like this kind of article and thank you for your sharing.

    Life is short & we should treasure what we have......

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  15. Thanks, Anonymous. It appears that you are the only reader who prefers my more personal, everyday life articles to the ones on local politics... To me they are equally interesting and equally important.

    Cheers,

    Jason

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  16. Dear Jason,

    珍惜所擁有的, 特別是家人. 因為生有時, 死有時.

    常存感恩的心.

    May God bless you.

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  17. Hi Jason, Thanks for moving my post here. Really enjoyed reading the comments. Looks like you have attracted a very vivacious community here.

    Cannot imagine what a more chaotic MickeyMouseLand our world would become if we were immortal! Am quite pleased that we all have unknown expiration dates.

    - "NOW is the best time, HERE is the best place, the PERSON/S whom I am with at the current moment is/are the most important person/s."

    - "The past is smoke, the future is a dream, the only thing that matters is living the current moment with MINDFULNESS."

    -Teachings fr Ajhan Brahm- (Kwok's two cents.)

    Thank you for sharing, EVERYBODY !

    Cheers

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  18. Thanks Jason,
    I enjoyed your article a lot and it made me think of John Donne's poem "Death be Not Proud," and A E Housman "To an Athlete Dying Young". I have never ever been close to death and have never consciously feared it. I attribute this to some sort of childish double misreading of Buddhism and Catholicism? But this all came crashing down three years ago when my sister was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Out of nowhere "Death" became my unwanted friend who showed me what he could take away from me. "Cancer" became no longer a theoretical but instead became soul messing. Death and cancer, the twin bastards showed me the pain, heartache, and annihilation they could bring to my family. Now my sister is fine but death/cancer is occasionally in my dreams. I am on my life path- doing my life dream which is to be an anthropologist/writer and I have dutifully reproduced my genes so again my own death would be okay... but not others. Yeah "death"- no one wants to talk about but it happens every minute... someone died the time it took me to write this comment but then again someone was born to.
    thanks for your article,
    JB

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  19. Thanks, Jenny, for sharing your sister's harrowing story. I wish you, your sister and the rest of your family great health and happiness.

    Cheers,

    Jason

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  20. “I have never given much thought as to how I would die,”… maybe, people generally think more about “when” one would die and “how one could avoid death” more than how they are going to counter the god of Hades, I guess. As for your saying that it “was not nearly as fearsome as” you had thought, was it just too quick for even your reflex to respond? Given that it is something totally unanticipated that plunged out of the blue. And death is NEVER remote. By definition “accident” can happen anytime anywhere. My friend (another lawyer and amateur singer) slipped in the bathroom, hit her head and bid us all farewell before we knew it a few years back, right after her Legco campaign. It can be dreadfully close to home.

    As for one’s whole life flashing before one’s eyes in the moment before one’s demise, I used to think these are all over-dramatization in films and books. Your experience corroborated this, and my experience too (from my earlier comments to you). But then again, a single, startling thought might just shoot across someone’s soul at the moment when one is teasing death, guess we will never really know. At least I am happy to hear that you harboured neither pain nor regret as your consciousness evaporated at that split second.

    “The unspeakable beauty of finality”. Beautiful, beautiful line, and grand it is, the ultimate culmination of a LIFE. But somehow, on re-reading your article this time from a different light, somehow I felt a wisp of cynicism, almost sarcasm, that whisked past which had gone unnoticed before, I wonder why. This is why I like re-reading pieces, or even things I wrote myself, to detect my response a second time round. That is something grand, honourable, about something final, past, be that something good or bad. I totally empathize with that feeling, and with the awe and respect one usually (and should) demonstrate before an epitaph.

    [To be continued...]

    Christine

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  21. Continuing from previous comment]


    Well, you have had your fair share of near-death accidents, but I have to say with the utmost respect that your “assumption” of eating healthy is really an “assumption”!!! If only life could be this simple I wouldn’t even be reading your articles today probably, there’ll be so much less going on in the world for you to write about, especially on the social or political fronts. Still, I may be exaggerating, but I do believe there is richer ground for an erudite harvest if one could be more observant of even the “small” events around oneself, and to appreciate them more. I beg to differ, but I think apart from that other anonymous reader of yours, I love your personal, everyday life articles too!!! I am sure you can read between the lines in my comments on those articles to you, right? He / she is not the only one.

    As I said, people don’t even consider running a yellow light etc as “risks”, it is a non-existent word in their dictionary and that’s why they act so unhesitatingly. Your comment “[a]s we get older … disregarded so completely” resonates with me. It’s so very true, and also how the fear of loneliness heaps up too, how people would hoard things up and gather things and people around them and trying to bring them to the graves with oneself, money or concubines or otherwise…

    Learn the lesson (gosh, don’t like preaching to you), be careful, but do erase the memory and the morbid thoughts out of your mind, or they’ll work in insidious ways to mesmerize you into walking into another accident again. And you are not seeing your ghost in the mirror. There must be a purpose for your to be here still, for yourself, for your family and loved ones. Unearth it and pen a brighter future for yourself !

    Christine

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  22. indeed we cannot really take control of much thing in our lives, including life itself. the idea of death becomes less horrible to me since when i accept its ievitability and the fact that i put my faith on a Jew who was put to death but was risen again, as his followers said and believed. and how amazing it is that the subject of death actually brings so many beautiful works to us. Without his fear to death, Gustav Mahler would not have composed the 9th Symphony and the Song of the Earth.

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  23. To answer your question, my two incidents were both car accidents. I'll just describe one here.
    I want driving alone on a fairly crowded highway, 2 hours towards Atlanta, GA. I had a small Toyota Camary at the time. I'm in the left lane, driving at about 70 miles an hour, trying to pass a huge truck. As the front end of my car reached the end of the semi-truck in the adjacent right lane, he signals to change lanes.
    The instant the truck driver turns on the blinker he starts to move into my lane -in 2 seconds . I'm too close, I have no time to back off, I'm in his blind spot. And with my speed I'm going to crash into his truck.

    The moments slowed down, I had two choices, either I steer the car into the grassy area that separates the highway or to pump on the brakes. I instantly knew that my small car will flip if I drove into the grass area. So I pumped on my breaks, to slow myself down, this spins my car around, I let go of the steering wheel. I let go of everything, the car did a 360 a couple of times, I watched the cars behind me slow and make room for me.

    I thought to myself, "is this it? I could be hit any moment now. I was thinking of my plans for the summer, and now it might not..."

    For unexplainables reasons, my car maneuvered itself, and parked, stopped onto the shoulders parellel to the highway, out of harms way. I specifically remember that I was not holding the steering wheel or stepping on the pedals.
    How did it do that? I was in one piece, still alive.

    Two other cars pulled over to check on me. One fellow, said he's never seen anything like that. He checked if my tires were OK, and left.
    The other car was an old couple. I could feel their gentle loving nature. They asked if I was alright. "Where are you going? Where are you from?" They held my hands and offered to say a prayer. They thanked God for keeping me safe and alert, and to protect me. Then they said they would drive with me for the next hour until we go our separate ways.

    And so we, our two cars, drove in the slow lane at 55 miles an hour. I was shaken but alert, shocked, humbled, appreciative, knowing someone was looking out for me. Once again, my life was spared.

    Aug 27th: This week, I've followed the tragedy of the HK families on holiday in Manila. Fear, death, sadness engulfed them. It's so senseless, how their situation was mishandled at every step. It leaves the rest of us lost in anger and pain also. It could have been anyone of us on holiday.

    Some people's lives were spared and some weren't.

    We have to make the best of our lives, our time here, whether it's being appreciative, being less judgemental, more forgiving, communicating, open to understanding....using our talents. It sure takes a lot of strength, and somedays you don't if you are strong enough.

    Find something, someone, meaningful. Make people smile. That's what I'm learning.

    -Lily

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  24. What a harrowing account, Lily!!!

    The Manila Massacre was senseless and tragic. Incidentally I am composing a new article tonight on the incident. Stay tuned!

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  25. "Death is nothing more than a doorway, something you walk through."
    Dr. George Ritchie
    *In my case, I swam through it.

    “There exists a mountain of circumstantial evidence that consciousness survives bodily death. This is the kind of evidence that would stand up in a court of law. Some people believe that science needs better tools to quantify what consciousness is. Perhaps when we discover what consciousness is we will be on the road to providing absolute scientific evidence that there is life after death.”
    Jean Ritchie

    “Death is simply a shedding of the physical body like the butterfly shedding its cocoon. It is a transition to a higher state of consciousness where you continue to perceive, to understand, to laugh, and to be able to grow.”
    Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
    *It is a higher state, a much higher state, but one does not completely shed one's body. The mind is the dominating entity and the suffocating pressure is the opponent. If you wish to return, you swim. It is a long, arduous and lonely tunnel, away from a blinding light that screams.

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