Life as a Ghost
As I was once driving home from my girlfriend’s place late at night, I had no idea that I
had only minutes more to live. Of course, dying in a car-accident is always a possibility
in this modern world, but this wasn’t even going to be a car-accident. Looking back, if I
had survived it, what was going to happen to me in a moment could almost have seemed
My girlfriend had called me in the evening, asking me to come straight away. She
wouldn’t say why, just that it was important. Of course I immediately suspected that she
was pregnant, the stupid bitch, although I couldn’t imagine how that could have
happened, since we had always been careful. As it turned out, she almost certainly wasn’t
(what a relief!), but she was wondering what would happen if she still was, or if she ever
was. In other words, this whole matter was just an excuse so that we would talk about this
most dreary and dreaded topics of all: is our relationship a serious one?
It’s always the same. I’ve gone through this kind of thing countless times…
I guess it’s natural. The desire to have a child is hidden away in every woman, sometimes
deeper, sometimes less deeply. When the time comes to have a child, she likes to have a
man by her side who will take care of her and her child. And sometimes she wants to
secure that man for herself even long before she’s even aware of possibly ever wanting a
child. That’s because the whole thing is instinctual, and that means it just follows its
course, whether you’re aware of it or not.
Just why a man would ever want to go for it, that has always been a mystery to me!
Maybe if he thinks the coming child is really his own, that motivates him. But in actual
fact, what difference does that really make? Children are interchangeable.
Okay, okay, I know that a genetic trait can only survive if it somehow bolsters its own
survival. The same applies to an instinctual program. An instinctual program that makes
you take care of your own children (who will have inherited that very same instinctual
program) will obviously bolster its own survival. On the other hand, an instinctual
program that would make us neglect our own children would eventually die out, because
the mechanism to make it survive in the next generation is missing.
Of course this is completely clear to me. It’s completely logical that we would have an
instinctual mechanism that makes us want to produce lots of our own children, and that
our ancestors certainly had it too, else we wouldn’t be here.
But the funny thing is that this instinctual program, being so successful at spreading
itself, is now shared by virtually everybody. All children have it, never mind whether
they’re our own or not. And this applies to all other instinctual programs too. It applies to
all genetic traits. We all have virtually the same genome, with just a tiny bit of variation
here and there, because for some (rare) genes there are several possible alleles. We can
have blood-group A, B, AB or O. We can be black, white, yellow or brown or something
in between. But deep down we are all exactly the same!
So why bother to have children? There are so many children everywhere already, and so
many people looking after them. Why should I join that crowd? And why should I take
care of any one particular child rather than any other, since they’re all the same anyway?
Come to that, why should I fall in love with one particular woman?