Our most frequently asked question of the universe-at-large (remembering to use our inside voice) is a simple one: Is there or isn’t there?
Put more simply, in the universal language of the chainsaw-wielding prophet of the street — he of the plaid Mohawk and lifelong failure to floss or read any of the Great Books, including Fireman Small — is there is or is there aint?
Even in the most basic Dick-and-Jane grunts coming from our idealized image of the cave-like American front room–the haunting flicker of shame from the Not So Smart After All TV; the inane voices of sports announcers relentlessly parsing the slightest change in the facial expression and/or pending bodily function of LeBron James; the empty, clangless clug of an aluminum beer can hitting a growing pyramid in the center of the room; the hamster, belly up and unmoving on the eerily silent hamster wheel; the choking, bitter fumes of rat poison, tar, cyanide, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide smoldering upward from the cancer delivery system dangling from the lips of an old babushka, crocheting her vodka cozies in a dark corner–the words may sound different, but they ask the same damn question: “Who’s got the remote?”*
Our thirst for an answer to what happens after the backhoe moves on to the next plot, is rivaled only by our thirst for beer, especially with some nachos and wings. Yet, to date, the universe has remained silent on the question of life after death–perhaps out of indifference, or perhaps due to a hearing problem. It may explain the recent spike in megaphone sales.
But advanced metaphysicians and metaphysician’s assistants–some of whom have metanurse and would like to meet several more (hence, metafour)–have restated the question with more optimistic lingo. They have posited (in gender-neutral positions) that if there is life after death, then there is no death. (Yay!) Rather, it’s simply a continuation of life, although without breathing, which is why you need a metaphysician.
To date, two diametrically opposed theories have emerged in attempting to answer the Big Unanswered Question. One suggests there is no life after life, nanny nanny boo boo, stick your head in doo doo. The second bets the farm that there is too, you big poophead. They are known in the trade either as “either” or “or.” One must take care, however, for one man’s either could be another man’s or. Or not. Do you feel me?
In spite of the uncertainty, there is a sort of compromise followed by both the eithers and the ors. Its message is contained in the lyrics to an old Delmore Brothers song. Fortunately, I have my banjo right here and will now begin picking, grinning and singing, all at the same time: Be ready to shout “Pick that thing, Pat!”
A one. A two. A-one-two-three-four
Here today and gone tomorrow
Life’s too short to borrow sorrow
Life’s too short for me to worry over you
Hello? Where did everybody go? Was it something I said?
*Less frequently asked questions of the universe include “What’s causing that smell?” “Why isn’t the pizza here yet?” and “How come I don’t fall off the planet when I’m not even holding onto anything? And don’t say gravity because I had to go to court the day we did the gravity unit and when I asked Mungo if I missed anything important he had trouble with the concept of important so I said Mungo you are hopeless and he just grinned because he didn’t understand the concept of hopeless. After that, I sort of let it slide. So sue me, you stupid bag of planets.”
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2016, all rights reserved.