eave it to tiny children to punch us in the gut with some realness only a few days into 2018. When this first-grade teacher decided to pose a fun riddle to his class, he probably didn't anticipate that his students would send him (and the entire Internet) spiraling into an existential and philosophical crisis of epic proportions.
Thanks, kid. Your teacher tried to get you thinking and add some lighthearted entertainment to the school day, and you paid him back with a stark reflection on humanity, religion, and all this other crap we didn't want to think about yet this year. We are mere days into 2018. All we wanted to worry about was our green smoothies and that year-long gym membership we just foolishly splurged on.
When first-grade teacher Bret Turner took a dry-erase marker to the whiteboard to provide his class with a riddle Tuesday morning, he probably didn't anticipate that he would end up questioning his entire existence.
“I am the beginning of everything, the end of everywhere. I’m the beginning of eternity, the end of time and space. What am I?” the innocent riddle asked.
The answer, of course, is the letter “e.”
But the first guess from one of his first graders? Death.
Hilarious! We're chuckling. Oh, wait, no, now we're crying.
How did we get here? Yes, how did we get to this crying-laughing disaster face, but also how did we arrive on this planet, at this moment in time, at this juncture in the universe. What does it all mean? What is life, if not the aftermath of death?
What are we doing here? No, really. What are we doing here? Why is this small child’s answer to a riddle — which, for the record, was wrong — sending us head-first into a nightmarish contemplation of our own mortality?
Of course, kid No. 1 wasn't the only offender.
“Nothingthing” sounds like a character from A Wrinkle in Time. Or a place in The Phantom Tollbooth. Well, great, let’s just crawl back in the womb and read all the formative books that shaped our childhood.
But we can’t do that just yet because believe it or not, there’s more to this story…