This is a children’s story, a children’s story for older people.
Once upon a time, there was a bottle of baby aspirin. It contained a few hundred baby aspirins. They didn’t know they were in an aspirin bottle.
They didn’t know that they were baby aspirins. All they knew was that they all woke up one day piled on top of each other in a very dark place. They introduced themselves to each other and began asking questions. Mostly questions about where they were, who they were and why they were there. Wherever there was.
This went on for a while until one day the most amazing thing happened. They all heard a loud screeching sound and all of a sudden the top of their world disappeared. They all looked up to see in the sky above them, a giant round white puffy cloud. But one side of the cloud was pushed aside, and bright light was pouring in! As they were all trying to process this, their whole world suddenly rose up and turned completely upside down and they all crashed into the giant white puffy cloud. It was surprisingly soft and comfortable, and it made them feel, well, protected. It also stopped them from falling out of the sky.
Except for one baby aspirin that fell through the hole on the side of the cloud and disappeared into the bright light. And just as the baby aspirins were coming to terms with their new world orientation, the whole world turned upside down again and dropped with a large thud. The loud screeching noise returned and once again the world went dark. Well, needless to say, this event made for a great deal of discussion amongst all the baby aspirins. Mostly questions like
“What the hell just happened?”
“Where did that light come from?”
“What the hell happened to Phil? He just disappeared into the light!”
(I’m not sure baby aspirins have names. But if they did I think Phil would be a very appropriate one, for reasons that will reveal themselves later.)
Anyway, the baby aspirins soon learned that this phenomenon happened again and again. Always with the same amount of time in between events. No matter how much they thought about it and talked about it. They just couldn’t figure out what was going on.
But then, one day, during the upside-down time, not one, but five baby aspirins fell through the hole in the sky. All the other baby aspirins recoiled in horror. And then, the most amazing thing happened. Four of the baby aspirins fell back from the sky and the world turned right side up again, like it always did.
All the baby aspirins (there were much fewer of them now) gathered around the four that returned and asked them what happened? What did they see? They told them they fell onto a giant hand that was attached to an unimaginably huge … something.
They decided that it must be a God. The hand then tipped sideways and they all fell back through the hole in the clouds back to their world. All of them except for one. Phil. (Phil turns out to be a very popular baby aspirin name.)
As you can imagine, this led to a very robust discussion about the meaning of life and their role in it. As time went on the occurrences of more than one baby aspirin falling out of the sky and returning happened more and more. But one day they got another clue about what was happening to them. One of the returning baby aspirins, Phil, (who else?), had a startling story. He fell onto the Giant Hand of God with the others, but he continued rolling until he fell off the hand of God and dropped for a long, long time and crashed onto a huge flat surface.
Another hand of God appeared over the first hand and plucked up a single baby aspirin. As it rose up, a giant hole appeared in the head of the God and the hand threw the poor baby aspirin into the giant hole and the hole closed up. Then the hand then suddenly came down and picked Phil up and dropped him into the hole in sky!
Phil was now convinced that their purpose in life was to be sacrificed to a cruel and unimaginably huge God. Some agreed with him and some didn’t. But from that time on Phil always tried to avoid the hole in the sky when the great upside-downing came.
And then, one day, Phil realized he was alone. He was the last one. The last baby aspirin. He felt so alone. He had nobody to talk to. Well, that wasn’t exactly true. He could talk to what everybody referred to as “the huge grey cylinder.” Nobody knew what it was or why it was there. It had been there since the beginning. And it did talk. The only problem was that no matter what you asked it, it always said the same thing.
“I keep you dry.”
Phil was very sad, knowing that it was only a matter of time until the next great upside-downing would come. And it would probably be his last. Sure enough, it did. Phil tried to avoid the great hole, but this time the world just kept shaking and shaking. And suddenly, the giant puffy cloud got sucked into the light and disappeared! Screaming, Phil fell through the hole and out of his world for the last time.
Sure enough, he landed in the great hand of God and soon the other great hand of God plucked him up and flung him into the giant hole in the head of God.
Phil was terrified. He found himself sliding down a very very very long tunnel. It was very slippery. Suddenly he crashed into a great pool of liquid. Just as was trying to orient himself to his new world, he began to feel, different. He was becoming less and less Phil. He was, he realized, dissolving! Phil thought to himself, “is this it? Am I dying? Is this what happened to all of my brothers?”
But as Phil continued to dissolve he soon discovered that he was still, Phil.
He found himself in a great flowing river that was encased in a giant tube.
As he flowed along, he soon realized that not only was he still alive but all of his brothers, well many of them, were there with him! The rest were in different parts of the great river.
“Phil!” They all cried. “It’s so great to see you! It’s about time you got here! What took you so long?” As you can imagine Phil was very confused.
“What is this?” He cried. “Why you all here? Why am I here? What is this river? And what are all those giant red round things?
The others all laughed. “The river goes on forever. And we are here to help those giant red round things.”
“We are?” said Phil. “How?”
“Just wait,” said the others. “You’ll see.”
A few minutes before all this happened, the Great God, who was actually just an average guy named Phil (see? I told you all would be revealed later!) was putting on his coat and was about to leave his house on his way to work. His wife called out to him from the kitchen with the question she asked him every day before he left for work.
“Phil, did you remember to take your pills?”
Phil replied “of course I did. Wait, now that you mention it, I forgot to take my baby aspirin.”
“And that’s why I ask you every day” replied Phil’s wife.
Phil sighed, took off his coat and went back upstairs to take his pill. What Phil didn’t know was that as he was climbing up the stairs, a thrombosis in his lower leg broke loose and an ever expanding blood clot started racing up his leg on the way to block his brain or his heart. Which ever came first. By the time the clot got to either place it would be big enough to give him a massive stroke or a very bad heart attack.
Phil reached the bathroom, picked up the bottle of baby aspirin, like he did every day, removed the cap, turned the bottle upside down and tried to shake a pill out. Nothing happened. He shook the bottle a little harder, but still no luck. He realized that the time had finally come, and he had to take the cotton out of the top of the bottle.
He always made a small hole on one side of the cotton when he opened a new bottle because it usually allowed only one pill to come out when he shook it. Well, most of the time. So, Phil dug the cotton stuffing out of the bottle and tossed it in the waste basket. Next out was the grey cylinder filled with a desiccant that kept the pills from sticking together due to moisture. And then last, out came the pill. The last one. The last baby aspirin. Phil tossed the empty bottle in the waste basket and yelled to his wife.
“Honey, do we have anymore baby aspirin? I just used the last one.”
He quickly realized that she couldn’t hear him upstairs, so he headed back downstairs.
While this was happening, Phil, baby aspirin Phil suddenly became aware of a presence. He didn’t know what it was, but it was huge and it was coming right at him.
“What the hell is that?” Phil screamed! “It’s why we’re here!” cried his brothers. “Attack!”
Baby Aspirin Phil had no idea what they were talking about but the big mysterious thing did seem, malevolent, evil. As he and his brothers surrounded it, he noticed that it seemed to start breaking into smaller and smaller pieces. It was dissolving. Just like he did when he fell into the great pond. It didn’t seem happy about what was happening to it, but soon it just, disappeared.
And then Phil understood. Why he was here. What his purpose was in life. He was no longer alone. He was no longer afraid. And for the first time in his life, Phil smiled, as he continued to drift down the great river of life.
Meanwhile the Great God aka Ordinary Guy (Phil) reached the bottom of the stairs and put his coat back on, having no inkling he had just dodged a huge bullet and almost died. He again asked his wife “Do we have anymore baby aspirin? I just used the last one.”
“No” she replied. “But I’m going the store today. I’ll get more so you have it for tomorrow.”
With that, Phil left the house for work. It was just another ordinary day, but for some reason Phil thought that this day would be a good one, and he smiled.
The moral of the story? I don’t know. Do stories really have to have a moral? Okay. Here’s one. Remember to take your pills.