The philosopher Kierkegaard once wrote that when you stand on a ledge and look down the feeling of dizziness is not only due to a fear of falling but it is also caused by the fact that you have the freedom to choose to go over the ledge at any time. And now I am here standing at the edge of the bridge staring at the calm water below. The cool breeze heightens my feeling of dizziness. It’s not the first time I have stood here. I rather enjoy it. My whole past, present, and future meet at this point and they all hinge on this one decision at this one moment. I hear footsteps approaching. Crap who can it be? No one is ever out at this hour.
A man yells, “Hey! Is Everything OK?”
“Never been better!” I yell back. He probably thinks I am being sarcastic but I am not. Standing here I feel alive. I am free. Everything falls away. All my problems and worries and all the other bull shit disappear. It’s just me and this one decision. The ultimate decision.
“What are you doing?” he asks.
“Enjoying the view!”, I respond. He has stepped closer but is still a good distance away. I can tell he is nervous and worried about what might happen if he gets too close.
“You need help getting back over?” He is becoming a pest. He’s like one of those people who keeps trying to be your friend and he doesn’t get the fucking clue that all you want is to be left alone. “You know there is a lot to live for” he says which almost makes me want to jump right there and then as a nice fuck you so he can be traumatized. But this is my choice and if I do that, I will have given up my freedom since he will have been the cause. And now if I step back from the edge, he will think that he is some sort of hero who saved a life and perhaps he will think I owe him something.
I wish he would move on but I can tell that’s not going to happen. So now I decide to take a different approach. “Really? Like what?” I ask.
“Do you have family? Friends? I am sure there is people that love you”, he says.
“So. I don’t owe them anything. This has nothing to do with them. You got anything else?” I ask.
“Well you can’t just throw your life away” he says. I can hear the desperation grow in his voice.
“I can do whatever I want with it. I can stand on this ledge. I can throw it off this bridge. I can try to preserve it. I can make something of it. I can do whatever I want and you can’t stop me.” I answer with snarkiness in my voice.
“It’s a gift from God. You can’t just through it away.” I am both annoyed and amused by this comment. The ignorance of it is just too much. “What kind of asshole gives you a gift and then tells you how to use it? And where the fuck was my gift receipt?” I ask. I turn back so I can enjoy the look on his face. “If you can find me a place in your holy book that says I shouldn’t jump I will step back on the bridge” I tell him knowing that the Bible says nothing about this. I am really enjoying seeing his face twist with his desperation as he tries to think of something that isn’t there. Years of indoctrination have made him ignorant. Slowly he realizes he can’t come up with anything.
“You just can’t. It’s not right.” His desperation grows and so is my annoyance. I try to think of a way to get rid of him so I can have my peace.
“Listen. How about you go get real help? I won’t jump. I promise” I tell him with a serious look on my face hoping that he agrees. He simply shakes his head and begins to run. Finally, I am alone. I figure I have ten minutes before he comes back.
And now I am able to once again consider everything. I think about my past. Everything I have done. My accomplishments and my failures. All the choices I have made. Looking back at it all I regret nothing. All the good things and the bad have shaped me into who I am today.
Next, I think about my present situation. Although I am not close to many people the few that I am close too I am happy to call them friends. And although I told the stranger that I owed them nothing this is not at all true. And even though this is my life and my decision it will still have effects on them and I take this collateral damage very seriously. Next, I think about my material situation. I want for nothing and life is comfortable. Of course, not everything has gone as planned and I haven’t necessarily accomplished everything I wanted but nothing ever does.
Finally, I look towards the future and what can be. It is filled with potential. The potential for success and failure. But no matter what the future holds it’s sure to be entertaining.
My time is running out before that man returns. I must now choose life or death. An exercise of my freedom. The dizziness grows and my heart beats. I take a deep breath and admire the scenery. The gentle rolling waves calm me and then there are the lights of the beautiful city. The sun begins to peak over the edge painting the sky in beautiful colors. I take it all in. I am overwhelmed by this feeling. Here on the edge this is truly life.