For Michael Anthony
with love

Thank you so much
for all your help on this one.

The Master Plan

(unedited version)

A Novel
By David Brooks

Chapter One

Before we begin, I have a question for you.

Do you want to know when you are going to die? If I could give you a date, a day that some greater power has predetermined to be your last, assuming such a power existed, would you want to know what that date is?

Birth and Death.

These are the only two experiences that every human being will share in their existence, one of which can not be remembered and the other of which can not be described.

We don’t choose life. Whether on purpose or by accident, it is given to us by our parents (or as many believe, "…by some greater power…"). Nor do we pick when we will die (accepting suicide as NOT an option for most of us). It happens when it happens, yet it happens to us all sooner or later.

This is, in fact, life’s only absolute guarantee. If you are born, you will someday die.

Consequently, the two most important events of our existence, our conception and our demise, we have no say in. We don’t pick the family we are born into. We don’t pick the year. We don’t pick the country, the race, or even what sex we are to be. We just are. No choices. No options. Welcome to the world.

I wish I could remember the contentment of my mother’s womb. I wonder what it was like taking my first breath of air as I ventured into the new world. How excited was I? How scared or confused was I? What was my first thought? We’ve all been there, yet none of us can answer these questions, just as none of us can describe what it will be like to die. Or if anything comes afterwards.

The only thing we fully understand about death is that it is the end of life. We do not look forward to death. We do not desire death. In fact, we fear death. We do everything in our power to delay it, push it back, or even deny it. But in the end, there is no denying death. For some it comes early in their life, for others it comes later, but it does come for us all eventually.

Out of this fear of death, I have always believed, mankind created religion. Something to take the edge off that looming threat that hangs over us all from the day we are born. Religion is a genius design serving many, many purposes and objectives, not the least important of which promises a life after death. But of course, in order to achieve this life after death, your life before death must be worthy. In other words, assuming religion is the design of early genius philosophers, it’s other main function is providing the masses with extra incentive and reason to use common sense and common courtesies in hopes of better maintaining civil order.

Of course the majority of the world’s population disagrees with me. Religion comes in as many different varieties as there are colors in the Ultra Deluxe Crayola box with the crayon sharpener built into the back. Yet each and every one of them subscribe in the belief of "a greater power." And in each religion, there is a promised land, a Heaven of one kind or another, an afterlife guaranteed to all who believe in its existence and abide by its laws. (And I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale you might be interested in, too!)

At any rate, although I have never believed in any religion, per se, I have always believed that religion is the glue that holds society together. I believe the conception of religion was indeed the work of some great thinkers that were ahead of their time. In my mind, religion is basically a man-made distraction from the inevitable death that awaits us all.

I’m not afraid of death. Maybe that’s why I never bought into the religion thing. I have always accepted the fact that I am one day going to die, and it will probably be sooner than I would have chosen if I had any say in the matter…but I don’t. It will happen when it happens. I am also fine with the idea that my "life," by definition, is no more or less significant than that of a dog or a horse, or even a mosquito or a tree. We live and then we die. A speck of time; a mere split second’s worth of existence compared to the billions and billions of years that time itself has existed. We don’t matter one iota in the Grand Scheme of things.

I can live with that.

But back to my original question.

Would you want to know?

* * * * *

Chapter Two


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The Master Plan

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Tweny-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Chapter Thirty-Six
Chapter Thirty-Seven
Chapter Thirty-Eight
Chapter Thirty-Nine