Theorize with me. Step in and join my mind experiment. Watch your step. (My team of free legal help sucks.)
A conjectural and extremely hypothetical situation.
Think of an immensely incomprehensible global game of musical chairs.
As in: the music is playing (loudly enough to be heard in every corner of the Earth.) Every single living inhabitant can hear it.
The music plays, fills the biosphere with its tune…
At that precise moment, everthing must freeze.
We will use this freeze frame moment to take a full accounting of every man, woman and child alive. At the instant the music stopped.
Everyone is counted, from the old and most decrepit centenarian to the youngest infant who was just squeezed out the birth canal and the very second he becomes a living citizen of humanity.
All living and all counted at the instant the music stopped.
Everyone must grab a chair.
The one person of the billions who doesn’t grab a chair is the one who will incidentally live for a longer length of time from Now than any other counted person on the plant. They take the honor.
Quite a momentous “accomplishment,” is’t it?
Consider the billions of people on this planet now. One of them will outlive everyone else; at this fleeting instant. This frozen snapshot of existence. Who will it be?
It’s quite possible that in the next 30 seconds a baby will be born who will live even longer than our test subject. The recognition and honor we bestow on that person is only good for the instant we froze, however. Like a cosmic rain check. It was only good for then, but in the 30 seconds since, hundreds, thousands, more babies have been born and any one of these might easily skew the previous accounting. And we would need to freeze time again in order to update our mind exercise.
Today, yesterday. Everyday…I see you all.
All of you involved in this game, including the ones who shared this split moment in time. We are all on a furious pace to outlive as much as possible, aren’t we?
The odds are stacked against us.
On a bus I play this game privately.
The bus is half filled with tired souls headed home from work, headed somewhere. It’s a mystery, we don’t know where any one is going or where they’ve been. But we do know… We are all dying. Slowly ebbing away like a weakening candlelight.
One of the riders on this bus will outlive the other passengers. Maybe it’s the driver. And one of these riders will also die sooner than the others. Once again…maybe the driver, and hopefully not while he’s driving this bus. Maybe as early as this evening after they exit the bus. Perhaps, on the short walk to their house they will drop dead of a heart attack.
We all share this common plague. Of death. We march en mass toward the collective destination. A curse we all share equally, one which can’t be escaped by virtue of means or status. Or poverty or sorrow. As we cross paths throughout the day, there is recognition and foreboding in our averted glances as we sympathize our common descent into the abyss.
In each unsure glance there is the familiar flicker of doom; the persistent doubt of when and how it will all end. In comparison to that person who obstructs our path. Who will win? Who will we outlast and who will outlast us? As we grow older, the puzzle becomes less hazy, more distinct. As we grow very old the most hesitant glances issue from ourselves as others behold one whose journey is nearing a culmination.
Death greets us all. It spurns us. Turns us loose for a while, lets us play until the day it decides to return and retrieve us.
And the black veil shrouds us as we flounder along the path. We share the burden and if the music STOPS now, who will be the last one out the door? This is what we await. The grand exit, hopefully deferred as long as possible and our neighbor is our contender.
So many deaths and tragedies and loves lost and promises cut short and so many tears and broken hearts and ill-formed dreams. Each of us, in our upright and life-affirming stance, represent an untapped and fetal form of grief and abandonment. Subverted, hidden, vestigial, promising to sprout like butterfly wings. Metamorphosis from life to nothing. Rivers of sadness awaiting our demise. So that others may fulfill a longing for despondent dismay.
A huddled mass the color of dark night gathered around a coffin before it descends into the ground a final time.
STOP the music.