In Adding Up Your Life, Is the Whole a Sum?

Do you ever feel as if your life does not add up? You’re born. You interact with family; you make a number of friends; you meet some people who end up meaning more to you than a basic friend. You muddle about. You look around to see how everyone else is doing it. Some of the others have not achieved your level of life mastery. But there are people who appear to be so far ahead of you in life pursuits that it just is not fair. This perception does a number on you. You run the numbers; you gauge the differentials. And some days you feel as if your life does not add up.

Maybe you’re just doing the math wrong. Or maybe life isn’t an equation. It’s not a ledger book of plus columns and negative assigned values expressed in terms of arithmetic. Maybe life is the accumulation of experiences, each added to the one before, creating a sum that is yours alone and the perfect quantity for you.

Well, if that all sounds like twaddle, do not let this video play. Sum is a short—as in four minute—film shot and with music by Temujin Doran extrapolated from a book, Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives, written by neuroscientist David Eagleman.

Personally, I would hope for a new set of things to do, once I’m dead.

The soundtrack starts with a male narrator, with a polished British accent, presuming you are amenable to setting aside your disbelief and/or belief.

“In the afterlife,” says the narrator, out of nowhere, “you relive all your experiences.”

The narrator could be correct. His intonation sounds like it was honed in a fine educational institution. He knows as much as anyone else knows about what happens to us when we’re dead. So go with his assertion. In the afterlife, you relive all your experiences.

Personally, I would hope for a new set of things to do, once I’m dead, but running through the happenings so far is as much good news as it is bad. I mean, I survived everything, right?

Just kidding! I’m dead. I’m playing along with the video. The narrator intones a running tally, illustrated with film snippets, of the experiences you can look forward to reliving once you are dead. Reliving perhaps is not the exact correct word here. Echoing? Mirroring? Ghosting!

The list of what you will endure again starts off with: Two months driving the street in front of your house. Seven months having sex. Thirty years asleep without opening your eyes. Five months straight sitting on a toilet, presumably flipping through magazines. Etc. Etc.

All you have to work with right now is life. It’s right in front of us.

Eventually, a minute or so into this filmed interpretation of intro to afterlife, you reach a juncture where 27 intense hours of pain taken all at once awaits you. “Bones break, cars crash, babies are born,” says the narrator, spreading out the words like a soothing oil rubbed where you don’t want it. Clench up and ride that out!

Once you make it through all that day-plus-three-hours of pain, the narrator reveals: “You’re agony free for the rest of your afterlife. But it won’t always be pleasant.”

What could be unpleasant? Well, for one thing, in this version of the afterlife, it turns out you have a body! And the skin itches! On top of that, the eyes are burning. And you’re allotted only one shower, which lasts 200 days. Because when you were alive, you spent 200 days in the shower.

[SPOILER ALERT] I don’t really know what the point of this video is, but I know what I took from it:

Nobody knows shit about the afterlife, no matter how posh their accent or commercial-ready their camera skills. Just presume that what happens once you are dead will take care of itself. All you have to work with right now is life. It’s right in front of us. One experience consumes us, and then another, and a few experiences overlap or echo or reawaken what has come before.

Stick with it, even if it doesn’t add up.