Life Time And The Cosmic Joke

  • I am in elementary school, running across the playground with my friends, tumbling in the grass and laughing uncontrollably.

  • I am an adolescent, joking with friends and hanging out in the schoolyard.

  • I am an adult, working at the elementary school, taking care of scraped knees and hurt feelings. I'm standing with my little fan club when a boy walks up and stands next to a little Indian girl. Suddenly, she cries out and the boy is off running. He goosed her in an uncomfortable way. The chase is on and I run across the playground, through the grass, and at last catch up and find him hiding in an abandoned classroom. He's upset himself. I talk consolingly to him. "Why'd you pinch her?" He felt bad about the way he looked because one of his eyebrows was overgrown and it made him look "like a werewolf". I convinced him that it was nothing to worry about since everybody has funny body parts. It's what makes us interesting. I befriend the boy and we talk every day about strange ideas about life and the universe. He's brilliant and comes to me with amazing thoughts for a little kid.

  • Who knows there the years go? Days that are the same all become the same day until you find you didn't notice getting old.

  • Still at the school, I return to my classroom and discover it is completely bare, with cobwebs filling the corners. I turn and there are the kids I helped raise into thinkers, questioners, doers. They have gray hair; and they tell me that my young friend passed away last year.

    I am overcome with grief. Misery descends around me like a black cloak as I kneel there in the empty room. I weep for my friend. I weep for the old children. But mostly I weep for myself, lost in time. Pulled inextricably away from those I care about for we all enter death alone.

    I open my eyes to discover that everyone is gone. The playground is empty and the setting sun colors the grass in golden swathes. I stand and walk past the jungle gym, the teeter totter, the swing set. There is not a breath of wind and no sounds of birds or cars reach my ears. There is only the sun, sinking every-so-swiftly towards the horizon. Almost like a glass dish falling, it is moving so fast.

    As it slips behind the mountain, my eyes close. The light of a thousand suns blooms behind my lids and a laugh escapes my lips when I finally understand time, life and the universe. The light grows infinitely more bright.