13 Billion Years Isn't Enough

The universe is something like 13 billion years old. Try to imagine that - 13 billion years. That's a long time. It's hard for us humans to grasp such vastness of time. The closest you might come to understanding such a concept is to recall the last time you were at the RMV waiting for your number to be called - it's sort of like that.

Thirteen billion years ... think about how much you'd be able to accomplish in 13 billion years. All your laundry would be folded. The dishwasher would be emptied. The house would be vacuumed. The windows would be cleaned. The gutters emptied. The cars washed. The yard raked. Heck, I might even find time to get a haircut.

Think of all the reading you could do in 13 billion years. Everything by Mark Twain. Everything by Charles Dickens. All of Shakespeare. War and Peace. Moby Dick. The Bible (Old and New Testament). The phone book. The dictionary. The IRS tax code. The US Postal Service's Domestic Mail Manual. Every cereal box in your local grocery store. Even all those mailings you get from credit card companies telling you "You're Pre-Approved!"

Think of how many places you could live. Of how many people you'd meet. Of how many times you'd celebrate your birthday. Of how many times you'd pay your auto excise tax, and your water bill, and your real estate tax bill, and your electric bill, and your gas bill! At least your mortgage would be paid off in the first 30 years, so you'd be living the rest of your 13 billion years free and clear of a home loan. Of course that means you won't have a mortgage interest deduction on Schedule A of your income tax return! See, the IRS always finds a way to stick it to you!!

Once, in an attempt to appear astute, I philosophized on how we intelligent humans live for a mere 75 years or so while a dumb old boulder might exist for a billion years or more. Where's the fairness in that? As sentient beings we have such a short life span. While a clueless boulder that doesn't even know it exists will feel the sun's rays for billions of years. I suddenly find myself becoming envious of boulders, rocks, and bedrock outcroppings that will "live" to see the year 2100 A.D., and the year 21,000 A.D., and 210,000 A.D., and 2,100,000 A.D. and beyond!

We human beings go about our terminal lives -- reproducing, communicating, forming relationships with members of our own kind and even those of other species (such as dogs, cats, telemarketers, etc). As human beings we are able to love, to hate, to create, to destroy, to contemplate the heavens, and to worship the very God that brought all into existence. And yet our lifetime in this realm is a mere blink of the celestial eye. A mere clearing of the universal throat. A starry solitary sneeze. Barely even a full, deep breath in the vastness of the cosmos. (Painfully bad metaphors, huh?)

How can this be? How is it that we, the crown of creation, survive fewer days than, say, an oak tree? How is it that we, as thinking creatures, are so terribly fleeting while dumb old boulders have existed for billions of years and will be here for billions of years to come?

And yet, if we did live as long as the boulders, would it suffice? Would it quench our thirst for living? Or in the end, at the conclusion of our long, long life ... as our candle finally dies ... would we say that even 13 billion years was not enough?

All this deep thinking has suddenly made me (yawn) very tired ... (yawn) ... Goodnight folks ... Zzzzzzzz .....

Jack Sheedy

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