Is This Real Life?



I was born in a so-called Third World country with a very high infant mortality rate, the last of five children. We were a poor family in a rice-farming village. By the time I came around, my family’s financial situation had improved to the point where I was able to be born in actual hospital, rather than in a home in the village. This was considered progress and quite the luxury.

My mother went into labour alone in the delivery room. Either there was no call button, the call button didn’t work, or no one had told my mother where the call button was. As a result, when she started to deliver me, there was no birth attendant present. In fact, there was no one else present at all.

And I was a breech birth.

On top of that, when I was born, I began to slide or roll off of the bed. My mother caught me with her feet.

Yep, that’s how I entered the world.

I’ve been told this story countless times over my life. Of course, it speaks more to the heroism of my mother than it does about anything specific to my particular characteristics. But the story nevertheless has caused me to consider two possibilities:

(1) That I survived birth, given all the forces arrayed against me, means that the rest of my life is icing on the cake. This means that there’s no reason for me to be afraid of anything in life; I’ve already beaten the biggest of odds, right at the start. I’ve certainly embraced this philosophy and have never let fear hold me back from any experience.

(2) That maybe I actually died at birth, and everything I think I’ve experienced since then has been an illusion broadcast from the afterlife.

Some things regularly make me think that possibility #2 is in fact the truth. And in recent years, so many bizarre occurrences have become normalized that I’m beginning to become convinced that maybe we all died at the end of the Mayan calendar, and this life is just a shared end-of-life hallucination.

Here is a taste of some of the episodes of recent public life that have clearly been scripted by a cosmic hack…

(i) After 9/11, a terrorist mastermind retreats to caves in Afghanistan from where he runs an evil global organization. Sporadically, he releases videos to the media, through which he announces his next mass attack.

(ii) A wealthy Australian acquires the deepest secrets of the world’s most powerful country and leaks them to the world. To escape authorities, he holes up in a foreign embassy, from where he continues to torment the politically powerful.

(iii) A global collection of anonymous vigilante hackers regularly seek and produce something resembling extra-judicial justice for people who have been failed by the authorities.  If they appear publicly, they only do so wearing Guy Fawkes masks.

(iv) A global terror organization seeking to re-create a Medieval state manages to acquire sufficient resources and support that they carve out an actual country with a modern army and something resembling a government. That’s some comic book shit there.

(v) Many nations become overrun with evil clowns. Yes, evil clowns. The White House must comment.

(vi) In the wake of the global epidemic of evil clowns has come the rise of…. wait for it… an actual Batman. That’s right. A real superhero is battling evil clowns. For real.

(vi) And another Batman has taken to patrolling the Internet.

(vii) And now an actual evil millionaire clown is seeking the most powerful office in the world. It’s like Lex Luthor fucked The Joker and their progeny hosted The Apprentice.

So… you tell me. Is this real life?