If you’re like me, lately you’ve been obsessing about the world coming to an end. Whether it happens as the result a scuffle between nuclear powers, is a picture-perfect playing out of the Book of Revelations, or the result of the Universe reaching the limits of its expanse and snapping us all back into a single ultra-heavy sphere, I cannot predict. In the midst of this worry, I’m resorting to self-made brain teasers to prepare me for/distract me from the Apocalypse.
Brain Teaser #1: The Earth is a Spaceship Game
Imagine that the world is coming to an end (see introductory paragraph, above). All the plants and animals will be spared but none of the humans. The only human survivors will be those permitted aboard a spaceship named Earth. It is your responsibility to choose the surviving portion of the human population. You are required to choose one and only one of the following groups to board spaceship Earth:
- Only people of your own ethnicity
- Only people of your own religion or lack thereof
- Only kind people
- Only wise people
While it’s true that any one person could possess more than one of these qualities, they MUST have the one quality you choose to be among the saved. Ready? Go!
If you chose option a, I hope you had your DNA tested before you made your decision. If not, heck, you could end up with just about anybody.
As to option b, who knows a dedicated member of a religion who, from time to time, bewails the fact that their spouse/child/grandchild/best friend/mail carrier (take your pick) does not follow the same light? I know several. So if you’re leaning toward option b, think of all the faces you see around the holiday dinner table who won’t be coming with you when the world goes kaput.
Option c sounds good at first, but would it be possible to operate a spaceship with everybody being super-considerate of everybody else’s needs?
Option d also sounds like a winner, but who would these folks pass their wisdom to?
Earth is a Spaceship is a real bummer, but it helps me understand that our lives need more than one kind of person in them to keep things interesting, or even viable.
Brain Teaser #2: The One Year to Live Game
How many times have you heard someone say live each day as if it were your last? Personally, I find the “each day” time constraint cripplingly short. I could spend one whole day, at least, in a tailspin of wondering what to do first. Living each year as if it were your last provides time make a plan. To make the game more interesting, you don’t have to be sick and suffering: you’ll simply be gone when your year is up.
This game was inspired by the life and untimely death of Briar Bates, a Seattle artist who, when diagnosed with terminal cancer, chose to make the time she had left count. Briar was an artist. She had many friends and wanted to spend time with them without it being all about death. She created a new art project, a water ballet to be performed in a kiddie pool at Seattle’s Volunteer Park after her death. It was her final request: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/friends-honor-artists-last-wishes-with-water-ballet-in-a-seattle-kiddie-pool/
Pretty amazing, yes? And Briar’s story started me thinking: if I had only one year to live, what would I want to do?
The very first thing that came to mind: I would book a house sitter, pack a sack lunch for two and a small suitcase, lure my husband into the car and drive across the state to see my Mom. Pretty simple, huh? I’d see other family and friends, too, and I wouldn’t tell any of them I had one year to live. We’d just do normal stuff- -meals and movies and looking at the spectacular Port Townsend/Jefferson County views. The trip wouldn’t be long, somewhere between four days and a week, but it would be very, very busy.
Next, I’d get my hair cut and highlighted every two months. This might sound frivolous, but those of you with bad hair will understand. Hair is my bane. It’s been years since I’ve had it cut on anything like a regular schedule and having a fresh “do” makes me feel good. So why did I recently go seven months between hair appointments? You tell me.
A mundane item for the list is shampooing all the carpets in our house, maybe two or three times during the year. Just a little indulgence- -I love walking barefoot on clean floors and, hey, we already own a carpet shampooer!
If there were a writing conference I wanted to attend, I’d do it! Outside of the One Year to Live Game I think very hard before parting with money for registration, lodging and travel. But if I only had one year? Well, heck, spend the money!
Speaking of travel, I’d book as many house sitters as it took and spirit Bruce away on an epic trip to see some sights in the American west. We would lease a motor home and take all the kids- -four cats and the dog. Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, Zion. Hey, these beauty spots might even survive the Federal budget axe for one year! There’d be a quick turn north to visit a friend who lives in Alberta and a zip south and west to see Joshua Tree once more. I’d make a serious effort to see friends from all over the country, the ones I’ve always assumed I’ll see again but in some cases it’s been 20+ years; some of them have already played the One Year to Live Game, for keeps.
I’d take up tap dancing again, likewise swimming. Could I finish all the writing projects I’m in the midst of now? Maybe I’d just keep a journal of my adventures. Then I’d have time for a trip to Europe and a week or two at the beach. No more worries about keeping the CPA license, so I wouldn’t spend time and money on the required continuing education like I have for the past 30 years. I would eat super-healthy, smile more than usual and, well, live!
The One Year to Live Game is a lot more fun than Earth is a Spaceship, even when I come to the big, final question: Why aren’t you doing all these wonderful things now?
Youch, that’s a tough one. No escaping it, these Brain Teasers for the Apocalypse are not for sissies, but they’re probably more fun than the real thing.