Cinderella At the Crossroads
"When you come to a fork in the road, take it." - Y. Berra
As a network designer crossroads that have never been taken get my interest. Biobanking is a direction that can carry our own human franchise centuries into the future, and destiny isn’t always about the entire species. How best to frame this situation, with that novel, virgin crossroad into Eternity now coming into view?
For many reasons ‘destiny’ for individuals remains a road untraveled, most often ending as a default cul-de-sac marked by a plaque or a plot, here denoting your last known address, and with that the unequivocal dissolution of your lifetime. Not for you are the Olympian vistas of the gods, the grand battles before or after Götterdämmerung, the security of immortality, amid more dirty tricks with your lovers. All that is cleared out permanently.
No, it’s the cold, damp ground or worse for one and all of us, it appears. And after the ambulance goes, the mourners, having proffered their last goodbyes, break camp around your modest allotment (if any) to depart and drive away for good. From there all memory of you begins its progressive fade-to-black, no matter your ‘fame’ during that loving time when once you romped among the mortals. It may have been a modest ‘life’ but it was your life, and now it is indisputably gone.
Not entirely. What is true is that the husk of your once vibrant body had seen much better days, yes, and was tired beyond repair. It had begun to embarrass you, demanding things like diapers, catheters, hearing aids, toupees, canes, walkers, and drugs to assuage the growing chorus of pain, stiffness and immobility that old age imposes without discretion. When once you had been so handsome that women just cried - now you have become a gargoyle that challenges pity itself. The fury of death’s onslaught was not to be denied, despite everyone’s best efforts, leaving more than one exhausted bank account. Alas, your phenotype is dead and buried.
Phenotype? Yes, let’s review briefly.
Your franchise began when your parents split the difference, with each contributing half your genes, to be gestated and then brought into this world as the infant you. By this method you were assigned a unique phenotype, which is one living print-out of the myriad ways the parental genes might have been combined. Here was Evolution at work, mixing up the medicine and then releasing you into the biosphere to survive differentially, alongside the ‘others’ correctly termed your species. You will be allowed to successfully copulate with them, and produce offspring, but on no account will those be ‘you’. Your personal franchise must await its next life cycle for continuance.
This is Evolution’s game, and the rules say that when the clock strikes twelve, Cinderella must go home, and take her fancy phenotype dress with her. That was a pumpkin they buried back in the cemetery - seems they always try to sneak past their best-before date. Grim reapers don’t get no respect, but they do get their gal.
Before they got to her, Cinderella did live an affluent life with her prince, in their castle, but the time did come when her plastic surgeon declared ‘no more’ and she too became a ragged old crone, left alone in her garret to recall the demise of the fat, addicted King, who eventually had submitted to alcohol’s torments and left her penniless. In her dotage, which had not diminished her intellectual faculties or sex drive, she looked back over what she had enjoyed in her lifetime, at what wonders she had celebrated!
Being a closet philosopher (unbecoming for a princess) she had privately taken stock of her lifetime, albeit in realist terms. Her fairy godmother had supposedly just conjured up her beautiful dress for the ball, but she acknowledged that this had just been metaphor for her being gorgeous, from the git-go. The prince was thirty years older than her, and had morphed into a corpulent womanizer shortly after their wedding, soon casting his own spell of fiat paper over their shrinking kingdom.
Finally, she had taken up with her lithe young jailor, and for a little gold they revisited her youth and his body in ways she had only dreamed about. As she hung from his chiseled limbs, she pined for a return to her own youth, to share her arousal on equal terms with him. But her secrets and shekels were almost gone, like her once-fine features, and she understood that her dreams might soon die with her.
She asked the young jailor for one last favor.
“I wish to return to the highest valley in the Alps” she said “and to lie down in the ice cave I sheltered in while skiing. There I shall allow the dark quiet to calm me, and carry me into a deep sleep. Someday when you are very old as well, you can take this map I am providing you, to find me and to lay down beside me. The alchemist in the village has provided us with the instructions for retrieving the King’s gold and jewels, within these castle wallstones. A reward for anyone who brings us back to another life.”
The young jailor looked at the map, and as he turned it over, saw what looked like a poem written in code across the back. ‘To be exchanged only for ETH’ read the last line.
“I cannot read it, and what is this peculiar verse?” asked the youth.
Cinderella was circumspect, but candid with her young lover.
“A smart contract” she asserted with a strange finality. “The Alchemists are our Oracles.”
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