“Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking.”—Leo Tolstoy (via mariposima)
This actually did happen to a real person, and the real person was me. I had gone to catch a train. This was April 1976, in Cambridge, U.K. I was a bit early for the train. I’d gotten the time of the train wrong.
I went to get myself a newspaper to do the crossword, and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. I went and sat at a table.
I want you to picture the scene. It’s very important that you get this very clear in your mind.
Here’s the table, newspaper, cup of coffee, packet of cookies. There’s a guy sitting opposite me, perfectly ordinary-looking guy wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase.
It didn’t look like he was going to do anything weird. What he did was this: he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of cookies, tore it open, took one out, and ate it.
Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing the British are very bad at dealing with. There’s nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies.
You know what would happen if this had been South Central Los Angeles. There would have very quickly been gunfire, helicopters coming in, CNN, you know… But in the end, I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do: I ignored it. And I stared at the newspaper, took a sip of coffee, tried to do a clue in the newspaper, couldn’t do anything, and thought, what am I going to do?
In the end I thought, nothing for it, I’ll just have to go for it, and I tried very hard not to notice the fact that the packet was already mysteriously opened. I took out a cookie for myself. I thought, that settled him. But it hadn’t because a moment or two later he did it again. He took another cookie.
Having not mentioned it the first time, it was somehow even harder to raise the subject the second time around. “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice …” I mean, it doesn’t really work.
We went through the whole packet like this. When I say the whole packet, I mean there were only about eight cookies, but it felt like a lifetime. He took one, I took one, he took one, I took one. Finally, when we got to the end, he stood up and walked away.
Well, we exchanged meaningful looks, then he walked away, and I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back. A moment or two later the train was coming in, so I tossed back the rest of my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and underneath the newspaper were my cookies.
The thing I like particularly about this story is the sensation that somewhere in England there has been wandering around for the last quarter-century a perfectly ordinary guy who’s had the same exact story, only he doesn’t have the punch line.
“We are desire. It is the essence of the human soul, the secret of our existence. Absolutely nothing of human greatness is ever accomplished without it. Not a symphony has been written, a mountain climbed, an injustice fought, or a love sustained apart from desire. Desire fuels our search for the life we prize. Our desire, if we will listen to it, will save us from committing soul-suicide, the sacrifice of our hearts on the altar of “getting by.” The same old thing is not enough. It never will be.”—John Eldredge (via hoodoothatvoodoo)
So i’v faced my own death three times, the first time was with the Red Devils, jumping from 2000 feet and for the first time.I found my parachute begun to open in the plane, the jump master pushed it back in the pack and said “it’s ok”and now its my turn and as i suffle towards the door, i think to myself ”shit why didn’t he ask me if i still wanted to jump” but he didn’t,so sitting on the door edge and believing i won’t be able to do this,i have my eyes fixed on his,its called the look,”ok go”and i did.The feeling of falling is ammense,and i did the count, and got to 1000 and 3 ……no chute
Three seconds later my chute did open with a lovely pull as i slowed down,turns out i had 4meter chute which takes a lot longer to open and no one had explained , but in those three seconds i was convinced i would die,once youv’e jumped your called a “pigglet”for obvious reasons .
My second dice with mr death ,i’v had some tests in hosptal and i had cancer!,there’s not a lot you can do about this so you just have to put your trust in the doctors.So 26 operations and 3 years later im ok,cured ,check ups once a year and now they don’t what to see me at all, still good 17years later but it was touch and go.
The third and most deadly ,even though i knew what i was about to do was such a bad idea,i was just compelled to do it,So a girl, it had to be, i knocked on her front door with the most futile of reasons with not a clue as to what i would say, i’m going to wing it,she opened the door dressed in a towel around her middle and one around her head and a bright green face pack on and said hello,at this point my hearts was in my mouth, i said somethink utterly incomprehensible and for the first and only time in my life my legs started to give way, i died on that day, in front of one of the most beautiful and charming girls i’v ever known, she just looked at me and smiled ,she was that sort girl, still beautiful even with a green face pack on……….so thats life or is it death, good to be here to tell the tale…john