The Big Bang

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Mike is a friend of mine. He’s also one of the smartest guys I’ll ever meet. He gets bored at Mensa meetings, because the pace is too slow. For the last couple of decades, he’s been trying to create human life out of a cluster of chemicals in a test-tube.

He tells me he’s close.

I think of Mike every time I think about evolution. How did gases swirl together after the Big Bang and create you and me? If it could happen by chance, why can’t Mike simply recreate it?

Before I go into my thinking, I should pass along a warning. Harry Williams was my high school biology and chemistry teacher. In grade 12, he gave me terrible marks. I wasn’t good in science, but I wasn’t that bad so I approached him and asked him why my marks were so low.

“Peter,” he said to me. “You have many gifts, but science is not one of them. The marks I gave you are probably too low, but I just didn’t want to encourage you to go down this path.”

So I went into fiction instead.

Instead of using the scientific method, I let my mind wander and I came up with how we all began. In the beginning, there was a miracle. The gases swirled, chemicals bounced around and magically a human male was formed. At the same time, more gases mixed together with more chemicals and a wind storm blew them together and a female was formed.

Unfortunately, she was in Thailand and they never met.

Billions more years passed and miracle on miracle the gases swirled again and this time the man and the woman were plopped together on the same beach.

He saw her.

She saw him.

He was shy. They never met.

Billions more years passed. I won’t mention swirling again, but this time, it was like they were made for each other. They had no idea what to do with their body parts, but they experimented.

Just like Mike does with his test tubes.

That’s how you and I were formed. At least, that’s my theory.

I told you I was bad in science.

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Plenty of Fish

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If you Google “10 famous people who married their cousins” you’ll learn that Einstein, Darwin, Bach, Rudy Giuliani, and six others totally missed out on eHarmony and Plenty of Fish.

They all fell in love the old-fashioned way – at family functions. At Thanksgiving, while the rest of us were eating turkey and cranberry sauce, they were playing footsie. At Christmas, they found themselves under the mistletoe with Uncle Nate’s daughter. I never realized that sharing a grandmother was a turn on.

When I was young, you went to a dance and looked across the floor to find the cutest girl you could find and imagined asking her to dance. Then you went home … alone.

In my Senior high school years, bolstered by liquid courage, I took those tentative first steps. Sometimes, I was lucky (slow dance). Sometimes she was “too tired.”

“God, you must be out of shape,” I felt like saying, but never did.

I missed out on Match.com, OK Cupid, LavaLife and Chemistry. I’ve always enjoyed writing fiction so I think I would have been good on these sites. Women might have crossed the floor and asked me to dance after reading my profile. With a little Photoshop and an inflated income, I might have been quite the download.

That’s my theory.

I got lucky. When I met my wife-to-be, I mumbled my name and she mistook me for a well-known rich playboy. That wasn’t the last thing she got wrong. By the time she figured out her mistake, I was in. She liked me. I made her laugh. She gave up millions for a good chuckle.

I got the last laugh.

I love hearing stories about how people met and fell in love. If you ask the guy, his version will be way too short.

“We met at a dance.”

“And …?”

“We started going out.

“Nice.”

Then you ask the wife. You suddenly hear details you never would have known … wonderful lovely stuff that he has totally forgotten.

Fifty years from now, when you ask a guy how he met his girl he’ll say – Plenty of Fish.

Just ignore him and ask her the real story.

 

Forever and ever and ever …

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If you search the internet, you’ll find various versions of a fable about infinity that goes something like this …

Imagine a rock that’s one hundred miles long, one hundred miles wide and one hundred miles deep. Then imagine a bird that flies to the rock once every thousand years to sharpen its beak. Each time, a tiny speck falls from the rock. The bird then flies away again, waiting another millennium to return. The time it takes for the rock to turn to sand is Day One of infinity.

When I was a boy, I heard this story and had two immediate thoughts.

1)      That’s one old bird;

2)      If heaven lasts for eternity, that’s a painfully long time listening to a harp.

My Mom and Dad used to listen to Tchaikovsky and he featured the harp in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. To be honest, I preferred the Beatles. If I had to listen to the harp for eternity, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to go to heaven.

Many years later, I read Alice Siebold’s – The Lovely Bones – the story about a teenage girl going to heaven after being raped and murdered on earth. When she arrives in heaven, she’s greeted by the most beautiful music she’s ever heard and makes the assumption that everyone is listening to the same gorgeous sound. She’s quickly told that everyone in heaven listens to different music, but it’s the most glorious to them.

I felt better knowing the harp wasn’t destined for my playlist. But, I began thinking about hell and the music played by the devil.

This was the music your Mom warned you about – the tunes D.J.s would play backwards to prove how evil these little ditties really were.

When I thought about hell, I imagined acid rock playing night and day with the speakers turned up to 11 (thanks Spinal Tap).

That, to me, was Hell.

Funnily enough, it was heaven to someone else.

I pondered these things in my heart and realized that maybe this was the way it was supposed to be.

It always seemed a bit unfair that the good guys got to go to heaven forever and ever while the bad guys suffered in hell.

When I was in my early twenties, I visited India for a month and was dismayed by the caste system where people at the bottom rung were “untouchables.” These people handled garbage, shit and corpses. They weren’t allowed inside the temples and were prohibited from drinking from the wells used by the high castes even if they washed their hands.

This was wrong. Just wrong.

Then I thought about heaven and hell, which seemed like a caste system, but worse. The untouchables were sent to hell for as long as the bird sharpened its beak.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that this can’t be. Nobody would design Hell to be this way. We must have it wrong.

The obvious solution for a lot of people is quite simple. They ponder this madness and stopped believing in Heaven, Hell or even God. The concepts we grew up with didn’t make sense to them so they dismissed everything.

I took a different path.

In my book – Lovers, God, and Eggs Benny – I imagine a different kind of Hell.

It’s not something to fear. It’s not harps playing 24 /7.

It’s something much more just.

At least to me.