"Hey, get outta my way!" yelled John, bustling past another, equally busy commuter.
He was walking as fast as he could without breaking into a run, pushing past people carelessly. He heard a man scream as John knocked his coffee out of his hands but he was in too much of a rush to care. He had an important meeting starting at 11:00 AM sharp, and a glance at his watch told him he only had 15 minutes to get there.
He veered sharply to his right, gliding to a stop in a Starbucks.
"Bob, the usual please" he gasped, out of breath.
"Already on the counter." John frequented this coffee shop so often, that the staff had prepared his coffee in advance for him. Some might think this was a sad event, but John was just glad that it saved him time.
He took off again, newly aquired coffee steaming in his right hand, official-looking briefcase swinging idly in his left. He took a sip of his latte, the roasting hot coffee searing his tongue as he elegantly dodged several passerby.
He darted out onto the street and heard a fierce honk to his right. John whirled around, almost dropping his coffee, to see a taxi with a large, greasy and fuming driver behind the wheel. He was gesturing wildly in John's direction, waving him off the road.
John continued to walk, glaring at the driver, when he felt another person knock into him.
John was taken aback, his coffee flew up out of his hand and the was sent sprawling onto the ground. He looked up, to see a dirty, dishevelled homeless man. He was wearing a green sweatshirt with numerous holes in it, and had matching fingerless gloves. His cheeks and chin were covered in an unsightly grey stubble. His face was a harsh red colour, probably from the cold of having nowhere to sleep and, judging by his stench, extensive alcohol consumption. He was covered head to toe in filth, and had a a glazed look passing through his vacant, brown eyes.
John stood up, and grabbed the homeless man by the collar.
"You watch where you're going! I'd make ya pay for that coffee if I didn't have no doubt it would leave ya bankrupt!"
The man was blank for a few seconds, before openly laughing right in John's face. John was overcome with a warm, sickly stench of an unclean mouth and the stale scent of vodka.
"I should watch where I'm going?!" he growled in a deep, gravelly voice. "I think you should, Sonny. You should watch what's passing ya by while you're going?"
"What are you talking about....?"
"Life. When you rush through here, passing all of these people by here every morning on the way to work, you're not just passing people by, you're passinh life by."
He pushed himself away from John, and began to walk away, slowly.
John dismissed the homeless man's drunken ramblings, and reached down for his suitcase. Next to it, there was a small, crumpled up piece of paper. It must have fallen out of the homeless man's pocket. John looked up, the paper in hand, just as the man turned a corner.
"Excuse me sir! You forgot yo-"
John turned the corner. The man had vansihed. He turned wildly, looking from side to side, but the man was nowhere to be seen. He had vanished into thin air.
John gazed down into his hand at the piece of paper. He slowly unfolded it. On it, was one word, scrawled in untidy pencil.
John felt as if he had been punched. His breath flew out of his lungs, and he clutched his chest, nearly falling over. His eyes winced with pain. And then, as quickly as the sensation had started, it ended.
John opened his eyes.
He was astonished.
Everything was new and fresh. A taxi passed him by, but the taxi wasn't yellow. It was a vibrant, living and shining canary yellow. He took a deep breath, but air didn't enter his lungs. Fresh, cool, crisp and vitalising air, that felt like pure elixir, flooded into his lungs, and filled his being.
He turned and bent down to pick up his dull, grey briefcase, but stopped, his hand hovering inches from the handle. This was not him. Not anymore. He had left the cold, boring corperate world behind. He was free now.
He left the briefcase lying there on the ground, and set off in the opposite direction. He wasn't going to the meeting anymore, he was going to the park down the street.
People passed him by, and a feeling of immense pride came over him. These people were rushing, they were wasting. None of them were appreciating like he was. He felt nothing but pity for them, and hoped that they too would bump into a homeless man and lose $4 worth of perfectly good coffee.
He was crossing the street towards the park gates, when he heard the most beautiful sound he had ever heard. Birds were singing.
He had heard this many times before, but he had never truly experienced it. He stood there, feeling each delicate note strike his heart, and fill it with warmth and comfort. Before, he had thought birds to be annoying with their incessent singing, but now he understood. He wanted to sing too, for he was free as a bird now, truly experiencing what it meant to be alive.
Just then, he felt a heavy force plough into his left side, and he was flung several feet down the street, before grinding to a halt on his back. He looked to his left, to see the front bumper of a car. He saw a man emerge from the driver's seat. He was screaming something, but John couldn't hear him. He felt a strange sensation on his arm, and looked down to see a gentle stream of deep crimson blood flowing down from his head. He noticed he was getting a rather tight feeling in his chest, and that people around him had started to move rather slowly. The colour from his surroundings began to fade, and as John drew his last ever breath, he knew he was dying. But he didn't care. for he had lived more in those past few minutes than most people do in their entire lives...
"The unexamined life is not worth living"