The Mountain Goat

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The Mountain Goat

Jimmy climbed up to just below the top edge of the shard of rock that was the peak of
the mountain that he had just spent the last two days scaling. The top edge was within his
grasp. With his right hand Jimmy grabbed it.
Then he grabbed it with his other hand. He pulled himself up and swung one leg over
the top so that he was draped over the peak with one leg on either side of it. He sat up,
straddling the peak.
Jimmy looked down one side of the almost vertical rock face that formed the peak. He
then looked down the other side. He saw the little, moving specks that were mountain goats
in the snow covered meadow far below. He wondered how his dog, Buddy, was doing in his
new home. Jimmy smiled sadly at the memories of his wife playing with Buddy.
He sat there in the biting cold, gusting wind for a few moments. He was like an egg
balanced on a knife’s edge. One wrong move, however slight, meant that he would end up
being smashed up on the ground far below. Yet he felt only a resigned calm. The kind of calm
one feels when one finally accepts their fate. Jimmy didn’t know what fate awaited him but he
didn’t care. It had to better than the fate that he was suffering now.
“Five minutes after four,” he said to himself, “that’s when she took her last breath.”
He moved his hands closer to his body, gripped the peak and turned his body a quarter
turn while lifting one leg over the peak so that both of his legs were draped over the same side
of the peak. He then moved his hands to grip the peak on either side of his body. Then he
extended his legs outwards.
Gripping onto the rocky peak as hard as he could, he lifted his body off of the peak
from its sitting position and onto his hands. He swung back and forth in the gusting wind. He
looked out at the snow covered mountain range in front of him. His view of it teetered up and
down in synchronization with his swinging motion.
He thought of his wife. It was the first anniversary of her death. He missed her dearly.
He wanted to go see her.
He thought of her last few breaths; her chest undulating up and down, teetering on the
edge of death, just like he was now teetering on the edge of death. He felt a deep sadness.
The sun was setting behind him. It was growing darker. He looked sadly down at the watch
that he had tied to his leg.
“Five minutes after four,” he grimaced with a tear in his eye.
Then he let go of his grip.
Jimmy and his wife Sandra had met as students while studying physics. Both avid
mountain climbers, their romance developed with the same cautious movements of a
mountain climber. Their dates consisted of climbing together until they reached the peak
together. Both felt on top of the world.
Years earlier, while still a student, Jimmy had wondered aloud about the Principle of
the Increase in Entropy.
“There must be some kind of creation process that turns heat into matter,” Jimmy had
said to his professor, “If all natural process have in increase in entropy associated with them
then where did the state of low entropy come from to begin with?”
“From an infinitesimally small, super dense, dot of matter exploding in a big bang,”
answered his professor.
“Well where did the small dot come from?” asked Jimmy, “It had to have come from
somewhere. One sided limits don’t exist in nature. Something just doesn’t abruptly pop out of
nowhere, out of nothing. Everything comes from something else. Everything is continuous.”
“That’s one of the big mysteries of nature,” replied his professor.
“Those dots still exist but we cannot perceive them because we are not tuned into
them.” said Jimmy.
“What do you mean?” asked his professor.
“We are like radios tuned into a specific frequency out of a huge set of frequencies out
there,” replied Jimmy, “We are tuned into the speed of light being a constant in a vacuum.
But light travels at all speeds and at all frequencies. We extract from that super set of
speeds and frequencies only a small subset which we perceive as reality. We cannot perceive
anything faster than the speed of light. To us, nothing exists outside of that limit.
Matter is just energy packed together because it is being bombarded with energy
which we cannot perceive travelling at speeds greater than the speed of light.”
“That’s a wild theory!” exclaimed the professor, “So how does that explain creation?”
“Energy is not evenly distributed in the universe,” replied Jimmy, “There are regions
with a higher than average density of faster than light energy forcing heat into matter.”
After his wife Sandra had died, Jimmy thought about consciousness. He knew that
energy could never be created or destroyed. Energy could only be transformed. He wondered
if the same was true with consciousness.
“There are no one-sided limits in nature,” Jimmy thought, “Sandra is conscious in some
other form.”
Jimmy wondered if consciousness needed a physical context in order to exist. If it did,
then Sandra existed in another form somewhere. Jimmy desperately wanted to see her.
As he fell from the mountain peak, Jimmy hit the steep face of the mountain, sliding
down along it as it leveled out. Jimmy came to a stop in the meadow below. Lying flat on his
back, Jimmy opened his eyes and saw a mountain goat munching grass, looking down at him.
Wondering if Sandra had been reincarnated as a mountain goat, Jimmy wiped the
snow from his eyes, looked intently at the mountain goat and thought “There are only two
possibilities: yes or no.”