I almost died yesterday.

I was in the company of friends and we had set out to do a couple of things. We were all chatty and the mood was light and jovial as we threw good natured jibes at each other. None of us could have guessed in the least that in five seconds, we all would have shuffled off the mortal coil in a most unceremonious manner as a result of the carelessness of another person.

The funny thing was that when the near status-altering five seconds came upon us, I was totally unaware of what was going on. My head was down and all my attention was fully focused on my mobile device in the back seat where I sat. I only became aware of what was going on when my side of the car smashed into the rail of the Anthony-Ikorodu link bridge and when I looked up to understand what was going on, we were heading directly for the rail and would have cleared the railing and plunged down to certain death.

However, by the special intervention of God and the skill of my friend at the wheel, we were saved. He had to make a decision in a second as to whether to smash right back into the thoughtless driver who put us in that predicament and risk the driver’s life as there was an oncoming truck moving at such speed that would have smashed him right into thy kingdom come.

Nothing short of a miracle could have described how my friend managed to swerve to the middle, colliding with the driver in a way that his life was saved and ours was as well by avoiding the almost certain plunge off the bridge. Both cars were damaged of course but we all managed to escape unscathed.

Looking back in retrospect, I realize that had things gone awry, I would have embraced death with nothing but a paralyzed shock on my face. Talking with my friend afterwards, he had a completely different view, being fully aware of what was going on; the cause, reaction and the almost inevitable consequence of a wrong decision in that split second. He told me that the highlights of his life thus far had flashed before his eyes in that moment and he went on to recount everything he thought about.

His experience made me consider certain things; his photographic peek into the past when he made a choice, acted on it and waited for the outcome-a split second in all, must have given an insight on what was truly important to him and from what he told me, I could tell as well.

I couldn’t help but relate that to the circumstance of our fellow citizens in parts of Northern Nigeria who literally face death everyday when they step out of their houses to go about their business. My experience is in no way to be compared to what they face as theirs is more horrific and gruesome but it made me wonder about a man’s final moments and those things that are truly important.

It is easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life where everything that really matters dissolves into a wisp of smoke that fades as the wind blows. The vicious cycle of the rat race replays monotonously: go to school, graduate, get a job, get married, have kids, slave for the kids and before you know it, you’re old and useless without ever doing a damn thing for yourself.
Tough cycle
In my after moments, I could see myself like millions of others doing the same thing like some of our parents did. Does life really have to be a race? Well, yeah…it is and if you don’t need to do what you need to when you need to, you’ll be left behind. But then, we must develop the boldness to get off that perpetual cycle and live a little because tomorrow is not a guarantee but a wish that may or may not come true.

What is that thing that you’ve always thought you wanted to do that you’ve never got around to do? I think you should stop thinking and just do it. You don’t need a near-death experience to realize that the things that are most important are the things that we do for ourselves and for others; things that bring a little bit of contentment to our souls and the souls of others in this miserable world. Its time to wake up from that dream and live it. A near-death experience could very well be near enough.

Oh, just in case you’d like to know what I did afterwards; I went on a splurge and it felt good. Very unlike me who’s usually very, veeerrry conscious about tomorrow but then again, tomorrow may never come so what the hell…

Malcolm O. Ifi.

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