Outcome

[Cross-posted at https://medium.com/@bob.glickstein/outcome-fcfbc8f16e58.]

A man went skydiving.
That’s good.
His parachute didn’t open!
That’s bad!
He had a reserve chute.
That’s good.
It didn’t open either!
That’s bad!
There was a haystack below him.
That’s good.
There was a pitchfork in the haystack!
That’s bad!
He missed the pitchfork.
That’s good.
He also missed the haystack!
That’s bad!
He died and went to Heaven.
That’s good, considering.
None of his friends or family were there!
That’s bad!
But only because they hadn’t died yet.
Oh, then that’s good.
So the man waited, but when they died, they all went to Hell!
That’s bad!
What kind of Heaven separates you from your loved ones for eternity?
I already said that’s bad.
There was one woman there whom the man loved.
That’s good.
But in life she never loved him back!
That’s bad!
But this was Heaven so she did.
That’s good.
Since she loved him, the man wondered if it could truly be her, or just a likeness conjured for the sake of his happiness in the afterlife, while elsewhere the real woman loved whomever she had in life.
That’s… bad, right?
This doubt gnawed at the man until he was so miserable he realized he must actually be in Hell and all his friends and family must have made it into Heaven.
That’s good for the others, at least.
Then the man wondered whether a likeness of he himself had been conjured for their sake, meaning somewhere a version of him was enjoying a heavenly afterlife with the ones he loved.
Whoa, what?
If there’s a copy of me in Heaven with my loved ones, the man thought, then why is my consciousness experiencing this afterlife and not that one?
You’re asking me?
So with an effort of will, the man forced his consciousness to jump out of the afterlife with the woman and into the afterlife with his friends and family.
That’s good, mostly!
But he was wracked with guilt about the other consciousness he had displaced (and possibly consigned to Hell) by doing so.
That’s bad!
The man concluded this must still be Hell, since crippling guilt surely would not exist in Heaven.
Makes sense.
Maybe there was no Heaven and Hell, the man thought. Maybe this was all a fevered fantasy invented by his mind in the instant of death, and an instant later would be oblivion.
Now I know that’s bad!
He realized that oblivion would be no different from the billions of years of non-existence before he was born, and was comforted.
That’s… surprisingly not bad.
The only question was how long his experience of this instant would last?
[…waiting…]