Poor old George Bailey. Everything was going wrong, and what's more, it was going wrong in tedious old Bedford Falls, a place he'd never been able to escape. Would life have been better if he'd never been born? But you know the story. A number of people who also know the story take some perverse pride in reminding me of it, as though I were about to throw myself off a bridge or something. And maybe someday I will. But in no wise am I persuaded that the world would be a better place without me; in fact, I suspect it would never know I was gone. My two children, of course, would never have come into existence, but the rest of creation is largely untouched by my presence and would be mostly unmoved by my absence. Examples:
The parental units: Hard to say, really, given their tendency toward emotional opacity (something I picked up along the way, though not effectively), but surely four kids would have been less difficult (not to mention less expensive) to raise than five.
Siblings: Always fairly distant; there's no reason to think this would change substantially.
Various Army units: Any 75C20 is presumably replaceable by any other 75C20.
Erstwhile spouse: She had more going for her than she thought; she would have found someone soon enough. And it might have lasted, too.
Workplace: They have clearly learned nothing from me in all these years; were I not there, the only real difference would be that the position I currently hold would be filled by two people. Maybe three.
First girlfriend: She got over me quickly enough once I was out of sight. I understand she married well and (I hope) happily.
Current girlfriend: Not applicable.
And so on. This simulated version of Pottersville doesn't seem to be a whole lot different from Bedford Falls after all. Obviously I'm not in any kind of position to test these premises empirically, but so far as I can tell, the world goes on just fine (or at least no worse) without me. I guess this means I'm not as depressed as George Bailey. And that's a good thing, since the only angel I know is occupied elsewhere for the duration.
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Copyright © 2002 by Charles G. Hill