I think back to when I stood on the threshold of manhood, gazing into the horizons of possibility. I understood possibility then, and that is why I surrendered the opportunity to be fully alive. That is why I was afraid to stare death down. I wanted to hold on to possibility, not to look death in the eyes.
Instead of fighting in the war, I went undercover, ignored the draft letters. Dad helped me find a new home in the countryside as a farm-hand.
I ran from death, driven by thoughts of possibility, of all the paths my life could take, of everything I could be. But the moment I ran - it was an irreversible decision - I realised I had, by running, sabotaged possibility forever. My life would be dictated by fear.
Years later, whilst reading, my condemnation haunted me. It was not in the Bible, but in a tome of theology that I saw the truth of my decision, of what I had surrendered:
"A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine."
I trembled as I read those words. I would never know that moment, a moment I have since craved with all my being. To numb the craving, I drink. I drink to forget this: The one chance I had, young enough to fight, the one chance I had to be righteous, to face death with furious indifference and thus to know the lucid effervesence of life compacted into a single, abundant moment, I squandered.
In secret, on my computer, I watch the videos uploaded by suicide bombers, and I understand. Yes, I understand. I want to be them. I watch their eyes, absorbing their eager hunger for life, for a righteous death. They, on the threshold of manhood, know all the possibilities of life, and they have made their choice.
We have dug deep enough now. It is time to use our hands, the sensitive touch of our fingertips and gentle brushes to feel the skeleton and remove the dirt from its skull, its axe, and its warrior helmet with Viking horns.
They believe this was an ancient battlefield. I am here, digging mud with them, as a volunteer. I'm retired, I've got little else to do. They appreciate the help.
One day soon, I will be rotting in the ground too, in a church yard. Died in his sleep, they'll say.
Before I go, I had to see this warrior, to salvage him from the death I wish I had. There is life in him yet - I can feel it - how lucid and righteous he was when he died, stabbed through the heart.
 G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (1908).