Object permanence

He was a simple man, or so he liked to think. He thought he was one of those guys who is born, lives for a bunch of years, and then dies without making an appreciable mark on the universe, one of those guys like the billions who had come before and the billions who would follow. Then he met his guardian angel.

“What, you wish you’d never been born?” The angel said. “I suppose I can arrange that.”

And just like that, the whole universe blinked out of existence.

“Yeah, right,” the simple man said. “Like I’m the center of the universe.”

“Let me ask you something,” said the angel. “Has there ever been something you’ve seen where you weren’t right there in the middle of it all?”

“What you talking about?”

“Have you ever seen something except with those two eyes? Have you ever smelled something except through that nose? Did you ever grab something except with those two hands?”

“Of course not.”

“So there you have it: You’re the center of the universe. Nothing happens except when you’re there.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

And then he saw it: 7 billion universes walking about on a small planet in the Sol system. New universes bursting into existence every day, old universes fading out of existence at the same time. And every dying universe a tragedy, and every universe born a miracle.

“No, no, no, that isn’t right,” he said. “I’m just a simple man.”

“Yes, you are,” said his guardian angel, “and a universe. An irreplaceable universe.”

And the angel went on guarding him until the end of time.

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