A mile a minute, a minute a mile


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An essay written many years ago! Excellent imagery, I must say.

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A mile a minute, a minute a mile

  1. 1. A mile a minute, a minute a mile<br />A man is dying. The cause of his death unknown, unimportant. A gloomy, shadowy figure engulfs the surrounding area as if the reaper himself has come to collect his bounty. The room, the bed, even the sheets covering his body become a void of unparalleled absence slipping away further and further from existence. The man’s thoughts and feelings are like an old black and white TV slowly fading to black due to the leech of life labeled time. From the darkness, one can see a small flicker of light now and then, as if the TV were taking in its last few breaths. His body lay stationary, his mind a gnat in the sky. What is he thinking? What goes on in someone’s head as death approaches? Heaps of ideas pass through one’s head in their dying moments. The mind begins to experience flashbacks, the interior setting beckons wild thoughts and one is stricken with the hardships of reality, much like "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," by Ambrose Bierce.<br />When one thinks of death and flashbacks, what comes to attention? The immortal phrase in which almost everyone has heard, “When you die, your life flashes before you eyes,” probably trickles within one’s thoughts about these two subjects. It is only natural to begin to think of loved ones or why this situation has come in the first place. For example, in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” Peyton Farquhar recollects: “Meanwhile he did what he could. No service was too humble for him to perform in aid of the South, no adventure too perilous for him to undertake if consistent with the character of a civilian who was at heart a soldier...”(3). Farquhar’s mind began to wonder of what he did to get himself in this position. To be too humble and too adventurous has its downfalls. Through trying to aid the South, Farquhar was in essence, tying the rough, grainy noose around his own neck. One could also see one’s entire life in a series of flashbacks, starting with the vague memories of childhood, progressing into teenage years. Then one would see himself or herself on the verge of becoming an adult, making their first decisions as a man/woman, perhaps finding one’s first love in life. Finally, one would see themself as an adult, the result of growing up and experiencing life on up to the point in which one is at now, death. Furthermore, flashbacks aren’t the only thing one encounters on the verge of death.<br />The mind begins to run rampantly across the planes of existence, leaving reality in its wake. This feeling would be like thinking of a million things a second, giving the mind no time to rest. On the other hand, the feeling could be just the opposite, thinking slowly and rationalizing, attempting to give one the conclusion that one will not die, one’s mind masking the concept of death by imagining a way to escape or recover. To illustrate, “As Peyton Farquhar fell straight downward through the bridge he lost consciousness and was as one already dead. From this state he was awakened--ages later, it seemed to him--by the pain of a sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation.”(4) This quote suggests that Farquhar actually lived through the hanging and that the rope broke. What one comes to find out later is that this was all imagination. An entire scenario passed through his head within a split second as he died. This instance demonstrates how vivid and stubborn the mind can be when accepting death. One subject the story did not touch was what happens after death. <br />Furthermore on interior setting, Farquhar’s thoughts slip to his family; “By nightfall he was fatigued, footsore, famishing. The though of his wife and children urged him on. ...At the bottom of the steps she stands waiting, with a smile of ineffable joy, an attitude of matchless grace and dignity.”(7, 8) This example shows what Farquhar cares most about in life, his wife and children. He cared for them so much that his dying thoughts were him coming to them, seeing them greet his tattered self with open arms. A mind like Farquhar’s will do whatever it can to turn the situation into a happy one. Feeling the love of a family seems like a gratifying way to leave this world, rather than feeling nothing but the raw, physical anguish or what is really happening.<br />Apart from the flashbacks and wondering mind of images, one will finally grasp the reality of the situation. The realization happens through the process, though. One thinks about the physical situation well before any flashbacks or imagery goes on. For instance, Farquhar observes many details of his surroundings as the soldiers prepare the hanging. The reality of death will hit a person whose clock is ticking numerous times throughout the time one knows he/she will die. Even in the end, one will be struck with the thought that one’s existence is about to cease, be it for a split second or for two hours, it will happen. To emphasize in a quote, “As he is about to clasp her he feels a stunning blow upon the back of the neck; a blinding white light blazes all about him with a sound like the shock of a cannon--then all is darkness and silence! Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, wish a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek Bridge”(8) Just as Farquhar was about to reach his wife, reality kicks in and for a split second, he knows this and dies. One could feel sorry for him because of this, but one could also think that this would be a good way to go out. At least one’s mind is not constantly being troubled by the thoughts of death; Farquhar dies with an inner smile on his face. <br />Looking back to the dying man, one can still see that he is still sinking into the abyss. The reaper is no longer looming ahead; he has drowned the entire room in a large, morbid shadow, making the air thicker, beyond strenuous to breathe. The man’s bed and bed sheets have no meaning anymore, for they cannot be felt. That old black and white television is consumed with black. The after images on it have gone and past; all that remains is a small white dot, which will dissipate soon indeed. Gone are the flashbacks of the man’s life before death had come for him. Gone are the vivid images of “what could be” or “what if.” Gone is reality. The man has finally accepted death as he grins at him, greeting him hello, for he has lived a good life and he now knows that his time has come. Alas, one can only think now.... what happens after death?Works Cited<br />Bierce, Ambrose. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” 1891. Ambrose Bierce: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. <br />