Everyone gets the chance to be God. It’s the littlest known fact. The lottery of the universe. Think about it. As of right now, the world’s population quivers at enough over 7 billion. If each of those people is living a full day, that’s 606,219,211,929,600 collective seconds we’re sharing. Give or take some, of course, based on infant mortality, regular mortality, and the difference of hours at the poles. There’s plenty of time for everyone to get a shot.
Not everyone gets the same amount of time, though. For some people, being God lasts days. For others, it lasts a fraction of a second. Some people get to be God in their sleep and wake up again completely human, never once knowing – not for sure, anyway – that they were, for a short, unconscious time, the single most powerful Being in all possible universes.
For safety’s sake, most people don’t know they’ve been God. The feeling is but a fleeting sense of clarity, which is the simplest way for most of us to understand omniscience. It’s a satiating quaff of the clearest spring to the brain. An orgasm of contentment to the heart. A momentary knowledge that if everything in existence was not functioning exactly as it should be, then it was at least functioning exactly as it could expect to be. The individual’s reaction to this omniscience is what determines the length of time they are allowed to be God, and for an awful lot of people, this time is expressly brief.
A great many reactions could contribute to brevity of deific proportions. It’s not always the individual’s fault, you know. Some people are simply not cut out to be God. Their time is blessedly short, both for their own sake and everyone else’s. Some others are just not ready for or not willing to take on the responsibility of being God, and really, can you blame them? Some could conceivably continue being God indefinitely, but because this is on a schedule, it becomes someone else’s turn.
I was God for 26 hours and 31 minutes. It started on a Friday in early October. It ended on a Saturday. It happened when I was making coffee. As I squinted through the clear plastic panel of the grinder and wondering if I’d set the grind to the correct number of cups, it became clear. Yes, of course the coffee, but everything else, too. Not only was I completely aware of the universe and all others beyond it, but I knew why. I was God. It was my turn. Obviously, I had to call into work.
My tasks as God weren’t all that different from my tasks as Me. I finished making coffee. I fed the cat. I did a load of laundry. I checked my e-mail, made dinner, lived a day. Went to sleep. I woke up thinking that being God was an awfully mundane job. Then I went to the grocery store.
I was in the produce section. I thought about how I really should be eating more fruit, and about how I couldn’t remember the last time I’d eaten honeydew. Then I thought about how a honeydew grown in Costa Rica had traveled so many thousands of miles to be resting here under my palm, and about how, since I was now God, I could decide that no more plumes of toxic carbon would have to be belched into the atmosphere while transporting a fruit that I didn’t even particularly like. And mangoes, while I was at it. And ginger, where the hell did that come from? But wait a second, I liked mangoes. I liked ginger. I liked being able to buy these things and feel their slippery, spicy, sweet, exotic love on my tongue. So what was the point of changing things? And further, what business was it of mine?
I stopped being God when I got back to my apartment. I was God when I turned the lock, I was God when I closed the door behind me, but when I reached my kitchen and opened my refrigerator door, I wasn’t God anymore. I was just me again. I hadn’t changed anything.
We all want to know what it’s like to play God and change the world. But what we seldom understand, and what became abundantly evident to me while running my thumbprint over the scaly, serrated mound of a cantaloupe in a fluorescent-lit aisle of a mid-Atlantic grocery chain, is that while we are all Essential for a time, the world will go on without us. The world will go on without God. The world is good enough.