The Ultimate Answer is 42

Author’s note: Tom On Tuesday turned 42 in 2005. But he wrote this article in 2008. The reference in title of this post to 42 is drawn from Douglas Adams “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”. I always liked the idea that something so profound could be tongue in cheek reduced to something so precise. All the rest is the original work of Tom On Tuesday.

Now we know why the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe and Everything is 42. Douglas Adams wrote about it for us.

For me, if a show reel was made of the ordinary person’s life, it would be no longer than 42 minutes. Think about it. A public figure gets an hour on “This Is Your Life”. A significant historical figure may get a two hour documentary or docu-drama. Someone who changed the world is worthy of a six hour mini series.

Immodest as we are, people insist on publishing diaries, writing autobiographies and charting family trees. All of which takes considerably longer than 42 minutes.

Arguably one of the most influential people in recorded history, Jesus Christ, gets a mere five books of the New Testament to record his life. And even that chronicle is silent about Jesus’ life between the ages of about 13 and 30. In that context, a show reel (or DVD) of 42 minutes is rather generous. But with a tip of the hat to twentieth and twenty first century popular culture, 42 minutes it is.

It is 2008. I will be 45 years old in April. In the history of mankind, 45 is the age of a veteran, a grey hair, one of the third generation. Even in the early 20th century, more died before 45 than lived past it. In the 21st century, age 45 seems commonplace. Young-ish middle age. Old-ish youth. But life is precious. 45 years are precious.

42 minutes are invaluable and here are mine:

Three minutes recalling the best times I have spent with and the most valuable lessons I have learnt from my Dad and Mum, Ron and Sue. Since they are both still alive, I throw in any happy memories still to come.

Two minutes reminiscing on cricket, with some personal recollections from Steve Waugh.

Two minutes recalling every job interview where I scored the job. I really was on fire on those days.

A minute more for the most satisfying achievements in all the jobs I ever had.

Two minutes covering all that I gained from volunteer work – for every bit as much as I put in, I gained.

Two minutes to tour India, preferably culminating in a train setting off from a busy station.

Two minutes exploring my faith – from unbelief in an other world, to child like Christian belief to deconstructing what is worth keeping from what mankind has set up.

A minute remembering the worst of times – mental anguish spiralling through suicidal thoughts and actions. And still a light of hope, almost always carried by a dear loved one.

One minute with an angels’ eye view of those two motor vehicle accidents – 1986 in Queensland and 1996 in New South Wales. My time on this earth was not up then – maybe another point of view will help me see why not and how not.

A minute just to laugh – the eye watering, out of breath, literally belly aching laugh, usually at something very silly.

A minute for all the great movies, plays and performances of any kind that I witnessed – the ones that were entertaining, inspiring and just amazing in the performance.

One minute with my first love, D, who first loved me back.

One minute experiencing the giddiness of any new love.

One minute enjoying the antics of all the pets I’ve known.

Wow 21 minutes.

A minute’s silence for all those who strove and achieved a better life for themselves and those that came after them.

A minute’s silence for babies, infants and children who barely got a start to life, so missed out on much of what life has to offer.

Seven minutes with the love of my life now, K. Seven minutes will never be enough but seven minutes that I will claim nevertheless.

A minute just to laugh – the eye watering, out of breath, literally belly aching laugh, usually at something very silly – together with K.

31 minutes – 11 precious minutes more.

The minutes seem to count more when you treasure them.

A minute for the unexpected, the surprises, the things that you never thought would happen but are glad they did.

A minute for the unexpected, the surprises, the things that you never thought would happen but are glad they did – see, that was unexpected!!!

Three minutes for all the friends I have ever had – it is not a long list so they get many seconds each!

36 minutes.

Four minutes for all the adventures still to come.

And two more minutes with K.


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