To view this page ensure that Adobe Flash Player version 11.1.0 or greater is installed.

Waking Up to Life Some time ago, a woman with a gun in her hand demanded of me and my companions that we pro- vide good reasons why life is worth living. Otherwise she was going to terminate us. I thought to myself: This is the very question that I’ve struggled with for so long and now I am being forced to provide a definitive answer. Do I make up some fancy reason and perhaps escape with my life? But if I lie, then my life is not really worth pursuing. How many times have I dreamed and read about this kind of a life-and-death situation and convinced myself that I thorough- ly understood it, assumed that I knew exactly what it felt like? And now finally it has happened for real and this time I cannot wake up nor close the book. Yet this fear of death that I am feeling right now is out of all pro- portion to the joy and satisfaction that life has brought me so far. Why does my life seem so dear and precious to me now? Is it be- cause only now, on the threshold of death, does the vision of ideal life appear to me, life free of all the illusions that have previously brought me down, illusions that only the proximity of ‘The End’ can destroy? Is it because only now can I see life as it really is, free of all the grime that besmirches its true visage, free of all the trivial an- noyances that make life such a tedious grind to bear in day-to- day existence? It is as if during the day of my existence, life concealed her features with dowdy garb and only now, as midnight approaches, does she shed her frumpy dress and stands before me in all of her natural, radiant, shining glory. I realize that we all have to go some day, but what a pity it would be to go on a brilliantly sunny day like this, when the whole world is pul- sating with life and every cell of my body is screaming out with the de- sire to live. How much more fitting it would be to leave on a cloudy, sunless day with the sky shedding cold tears. No, this doesn’t feel like the right time to die! But when is the right time to die? How can one tell In the distance, I saw my friends that one has accomplished all that getting finished off -- obvious- one can accomplish on this Earth? ly their answers weren’t good enough. Almost certainly they all To make the most of my existence, used the “My life is unique” de- I really should try to cram it all in, fense and it didn’t work. all of my life, into these last few remaining minutes, the way that I Should I make my reasons stand used to try to squeeze in all of the out from theirs? But I am a per- information just before the start of son just like them. Wouldn’t mak- the exams. Now is the time to live ing my reasons more striking im- my life to the fullest degree, like I ply that my life is more valuable? never bothered to before. Surely we all live for pretty much the same reasons and so my an- swer should be identical to theirs. But what does the tormentor want from us? Honest, straightforward replies or singular, elaborate expla- nations? How can one justify one’s existence? Where does one begin? I have no need or reason to justify my past, for it is already gone and she can’t take it away from me. Nor can I justify my future for it hasn’t yet occurred and is therefore of intangible and unknown nature. It follows then that I am only in a position to justify the now, the im- mediate moment during which I am alive. Should I appeal to her humanity, her compassion? But what is mo- rality, what is conscience but some intangible, nebulous substance that we can only hope has found a safe refuge in the breast of fellow man. It was now my turn. I came in and faced the interrogator. In a voice devoid of any tone she command- ed me to present my case. “Life is hard, really hard sometimes” I replied, “and a lot of times I don’t want to go on struggling against the unyielding, overpowering forces. Yet I want to continue living. That is all I can say. I want to live.” The interrogator gazed at me with an empty look, a look lacking any human expression, deciding on her answer. Just as she was about to make her pronouncement, I woke up to life.