At first I was ecstatic. Every question anyone asked, I knew the answer to. Every question I asked myself, ceased to be a mystery. It was everything I had dreamed of. Knowing it all, everything, unlocking the secrets of the world one at a time.
It started locally. When my parents noticed my ability they began to ask me questions on how to improve their pastry business. Within a year they were the most successful pastry sellers in the world. Bob & Jane’s delicious cupcakes were sold worldwide and they made more money than they ever dreamed of.
The secret came out soon after and a myriad different people began to contact me for information. I had businesses all over the world fighting for a chance to ask me a question, offering me ridiculous amounts of money and other bribes. But I’m not that kind of person, that’s what I told them. I had no need for money and I had no desire to help greedy corporations grow. I joined scientists in their search for the betterment of human life. It was hard work, questions poured in. I was answering thousands every day, millions per month. And as I was too concentrated on answering the next question, I did not realize how fast the world had begun to change around me.
The cure for old age was found, every disease known to mankind was eradicated in three months. Perfect solar panels were being pumped out of factories, perfect batteries began to make their way into cars, the first lightning strike was captured in full soon after. The knowledge of the world sparked at my fingertips.
After working tirelessly for three years, I took a break. I disappeared from the public eye and rested. It was only during this time that I began to notice that my knowledge was not limited to facts on science, business, or math. I was laying down by a lake watching the stars shine in the sky when I unconsciously said to myself, “I wonder how many people are looking at that same star”. An uninvited number appeared in my mind, “487” I then learned their names, addresses, who they were with and what their plans were for the night. One of them was an astronaut looking outside a window of the ISS; He was thinking of his daughter, and how he would miss her birth. I knew what she looked like, and he didn’t. I knew who she would marry, how she would die and how her children would live out their lives.
My mind was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information I knew about them, about everyone, and I began to panic. As the flurry of facts swirled like a thunderstorm in my mind, I learned of the human who discovered fire; I knew the excitement he felt as the burning dry leaves heated up his hands.
I screamed. I blanked my mind, and I focused on my breathing.
The number of oxygen atoms entering my lungs popped into my head. The number of breaths I would take, the spiders I would eat in my sleep, and the way I would die; Or rather, the way I would not. The infinite property of the knowledge I possessed had set in motion a chain reaction that would lead humanity to immortality; And I saw myself sitting in a room in the distant future banging my head against a wall, wanting to end my miserable life where nothing was fresh, new or surprising. What a waste. I tried living different lives, as a hermit, as a musician, as an astrologist… They all lead me to the same wretched un-end.
I thought of taking my life, I thought of doing it right then, under the stars. I would walk into the lake and let the water fill my lungs; But I knew too, that I would never have the guts. No matter what I tried, I would always be too chicken to do it. And so I was destined to live my immortal life in misery, knowing that I would never be happy again.
I felt a small victory, if only a futile one just a moment later. It was the moment I discovered that there was something I didn’t know. Something that remained a mystery. The mystery of how to forget.
The mystery of how to be surprised.