23 part 3

the time has come 23
the moment for decision

your options are these

oblivion is extinction
permanent and irreversible
once you select it there’s no way back

it often surprises and disappoints us
how many choose oblivion
some of the most accomplished people do
those who spent their lives being curious
discovering new meanings
trying to lead and to influence others in the best way
those who played with ideas endlessly
those who created

you would’ve thought they’d be eager to go forward
but many of them are not
we don’t ask why they choose this option
but they usually volunteer an explanation
the most common one is they’ve had enough
they don’t want to go on exploring

we assure them they have nothing to fear
if they choose forward
and they have much to learn
but in many cases they’re not convinced

we know some of them are afraid
even if they won’t admit it
and some suffer from too much self-worth
a barrier to tranquility
a hindrance to good choosing
ironic for ones who were brave in their endeavours
and although we point out that in forward
there is no such thing as success or failure
no winners or losers
they can’t rid themselves of fear of failure

with oblivion
they know they don’t have to try any more

i know you’re keen to learn who they are
would like me to name names
but here we don’t divulge identities
it’s much like doctor patient confidentiality

and then there are those we choose
the option of oblivion for
we don’t like doing it because as i said
we try not to interfere with will
but they leave us no choice
they’ve earned extinction

they are never first timers
they’ve arrived and returned often three times
sometimes four even five
and although on each occasion
they’ve returned to different environments
different nurtures often loving and caring
different food language and country
they’ve contributed nothing
they’ve caused disharmony
participated in violence and mayhem
death and destruction
and have influenced others negatively

they are heartless greedy and selfish
beyond hope

enough is enough
it would be wrong of us
to allow them more opportunities

unfortunately we’ve not been able to eliminate all
there seems to be an endless supply
of those who disappoint

if 23
you choose to return
let me show you some of what waits

waterfalls and plains
purple heather on a moor
heaving seas and dark rumbling clouds
morning sun brilliant on a lake
a garden of yellow roses

a 12-year-old slave on his knees scrubbing
a kitchen floor for lady of the manor
a drunkard beating his wife
fat kids texting and drinking sugar drinks
hackers compromising defences
elites in private jets flying to meetings
or to second or third homes in guarded resorts
armies training in deserts

Brendel playing Schubert
Ferrier singing Gluck
a mother reading The Little Mermaid to her daughter

Groucho Marx insulting Margaret Dumont
magicians jugglers and clowns

if that’s what you want 23
in all its diversity and splendour
sorrow laughter and nonsense
then choose return
but remember on your return
you could go anywhere and be anyone
could be either gender
any race or colour or speak any language
could be a Mormon a Jain or a pagan
born in Norway Chad or Bhutan

there are those we choose this option for
little ones who die as soon as they are born
or shortly after
they’re not in a position to make a choice
so we send them back and give them another go

and lastly 23
you may choose forward

i’m not at liberty to reveal details
and even if i were i wouldn’t
it would spoil the surprise
but i can say it’s an opportunity to learn
the truth about the universe
what dark matter and dark energy truly are
to understand the significance of crystals
know the real nature of light and the full Periodic Table
and everything else that has confused
and limited for centuries
and you won’t have trappings of flesh or dress
to distract you
time will be nothing
space will be nothing
you will be pure thought
in concert with all pure thought
no arguments or conflicts
no winners or losers

excuse me a moment
a few more have come and i need attend

while you’re thinking about it
listen to the song of the blue whale

i will return for your decision

47 thoughts on “23 part 3

  1. Loved the choices. Yes, there seems to be an endless supply of those who disappoint. I was doing okay until I got to the bit about the “little ones” and then the tears came.

  2. Life and death electives at both ends. Until? Not all but some. Yes I feel the choices piercing through the core of my earthly being John. The driving analytical personality that I am is searching for demanding still more to forge ahead and beyond. Ever your friend, Jon Michael

      • Say it isn’t so! The end? I was excited to think there is a next installment, lol. Thoroughly enjoyed and always learning from you, John. A pleasure, I assure you.

  3. This epic (in the most complimentary sense) poem keeps revealing and yet offering up more questions as it continues. I love the tone that you are maintaining, John, and the effect is quite mesmerising. Although stylistically very different, it reminds me a little of epic works or series by Blake or Milton – the philosophical undercurrents challenging and questioning. Great work!
    All the best. Chris

    • Thank You so much, Chris
      and i especially appreciate your
      being here from beginning to end..i’ll leave it at that
      and let readers make their own choices.

      Once again, Thank You

      Best Always


      • Bear hugs to you, dear John. I am on the mend and Monday see the neurosurgeon for surgery on right arm.
        blessings ~ maxi

  4. Enjoyed all three parts John. After several returns i’m choosing ‘forward’ this
    time. Thanks for laying out the choices.

  5. Uncle John out of all your writings, these three have touched me the most. Perhaps it is because you’ve given reincarnation a face through your writing that leaves many unanswered questions, but answers many too. Choice is very powerful, you’ve shown it in a very free but consequential way. Again Uncle John thought-provoking and beautifully written.

  6. John, the series “23” is one I will treasure and hold close to my heart always. I want to thank you, this has been absolute pleasure and delight to read.

    Hugs and admiration,

  7. Excellent conclusion John! It reminded me of this scene from Plato’s The Republic:

    “Most curious, he said, was the spectacle—sad and laughable and strange; for the choice of the souls was in most cases based on their experience of a previous life. There he saw the soul which had once been Orpheus choosing the life of a swan out of enmity to the race of women, hating to be born of a woman because they had been his murderers; he beheld also the soul of Thamyras choosing the life of a nightingale; birds, on the other hand, like the swan and other musicians, wanting to be men. The soul which obtained the twentieth lot chose the life of a lion, and this was the soul of Ajax the son of Telamon, who would not be a man, remembering the injustice which was done him in the judgment about the arms. The next was Agamemnon, who took the life of an eagle, because, like Ajax, he hated human nature by reason of his sufferings. About the middle came the lot of Atalanta; she, seeing the great fame of an athlete, was unable to resist the temptation: and after her there followed the soul of Epeus the son of Panopeus passing into the nature of a woman cunning in the arts; and far away among the last who chose, the soul of the jester Thersites was putting on the form of a monkey. There came also the soul of Odysseus having yet to make a choice, and his lot happened to be the last of them all.”

    Wonderful story brother! My best to you!


    • Thank You, Brother Ry

      thank you sincerely
      and i’m glad you liked all the parts

      and special thanks for staying with the work from start to finish,
      that means a lot to me.

      Enjoy your trip, i hope all goes well



  8. I am blaming greed for everything. Great post, we should more often point at those who pretend they cause no harm by destroying everything in the name of profit.

  9. Congratulations on this John I am overwhelmed with the depth of feeling and sense of absolute involvement and necessity of choice / decision , had you any idea how deep and thought provoking this work of art is? Stunning dear John , my hat is off to you Much love , holly

    • Holly,
      You are very kind indeed and i
      Thank You sincerely.

      The original was three times longer than this final version and i spent a lot of time editing and shaving away anything i thought superfluous, i’m a vicious editor and just hope it works.

      Again, Thank You for your generosity, i appreciate it deeply.

      Much Love


  10. This work in three parts is masterful.
    Not only is the writing superb, the thought is, too,
    and the setting and points of view.
    It’s a complete package in the very best way.
    Kudos, John!

  11. Interesting you would use “earned extinction.” This description has rattled around in my mind a time or two. I’m enjoying this series. I’ve never stopped to consider oblivion might be an option. I’ve always been a “nothing is created; nothing is lost; all is transformed” thinker. Your oblivion choice is fascinating — I’m still wrapping my mind around it.

    • Thank You, Dear Indah
      and I’m happy if the pieces set you thinking.
      Forward might be the best option..if You don’t want another ’round’ here.

      Big Hugs

      bapak John

  12. John, amazing work. I can understand the appeal of all three choices. There are times I think oblivion might be nice…

    But then the bright sunshine on the lake, the heather on a moor, the sound of birdsong… it would be a tragedy to have missed the beauty this world can offer.

    Forward? I’m too much a physical creature at this point to wish to exist as pure thought – despite the temptation of learning all the hidden secrets of the universe. Not to feel, see, touch, smell, taste – I cannot imagine it. But, perhaps, if I were 23, I could…

    Bravo, John, bravo!

    • Kate
      i very much appreciate your staying with the story from start to finish,
      that means a lot to me, truly.
      Ah those choices! i think next time if i have the choice i’ll go forward
      but it depends how ready i am..and then again it may all be nothing.

      i’m happy you liked it, i really am.

      Big Hugs


  13. John, again I fascinate and commit to second and third reads (at least) of this treasure. I marvel at the choices presented and now pause to recline and reflect on the truth and consequence of each option. Your words afford a tremendous stimulation John. I truly appreciate the thought that goes behind your writing.

  14. I enjoyed all three parts. I remember reading part 1 a while ago and wondering when the next parts were coming out. I’m glad I came across them today. You did a great job with the choices. I think it’s a fascinating glimpse into a possible afterlife / purgatory with all the options laid out and a cold bureaucracy behind it all. My own views are a bit more cynical and I suppose there’s no limit to what anyone could imagine but I think you’ve done a good job here. It’s very well-constructed and very well- thought out. Kudos. If I were writing it, I probably would have ended it with the host mishearing 23’s decision and sending him to oblivion, but that’s just my own cynical humor. It might be worth revisiting this premise and continuing for new numbers and perhaps exploring this afterlife / universe even more if you wish. I find it all very fascinating and I look forward to reading more of your writing.

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