The man who did not have time
by Herman Labuschagne

Eden Express Article, 16 June 2013

The man who did not have time...


In the shadows of Vesuvius, among the ruins of Pompeii one of the saddest human dramas has lain in frozen animation for nearly 2,000 years. Scattered across the “Garden of the Fugitives” the plaster casts of scores of people just like us can still be seen. They lie as they had fallen when they were overwhelmed by 400 degrees of poison gas. Here a mother with her baby. There the figure of a teenager. And tucked away against a wall – the body of a man, half-raised upon his elbows with both hands burned away.


His caption reads: “I didn’t have time.” The people of Pompeii were trying to evacuate. If only they had a little more time.


The man who did not have time has remained etched into my mind. I sometimes find myself still touched by his dying emotion. I look at life today and see how families are neglected. Parents work so that others can raise their children. They work even more to pay for drugs that cure their stress. And then they work so that when they have lived as long as possible, they can at least be buried in style.


We are all just trying to escape the rat race. All just trying to reach the shores of safety somewhere across the oceans of life. We think we can make it if we can just reach our ships. And so we live in our very own Garden of Fugitives. I never want to be like the man of Pompeii. The man who could have escaped it all, if only he had more time. If our lives should be cast in plaster one day – will our final moment show a man at peace – or a desperate one upon his elbows – who still did not have enough time?

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