This was only the second day of 2021 and yet it felt like it went on forever. I think the reason this year seems to drag by so slowly is because we’re not getting vacation time, time away from the house, time to see something new, time to have new adventures to tell our friends about over coffee.

Over this ‘holiday vacation’ I plunged into documentaries on ancient Egypt, the Great Wall of China, the British monarchy. I had trouble putting all these ages into perspective.  Since I’m 55 years old, I decided to mark history according to how many lifetimes ago something happened.

For instance Mark Twain died in 1910, which was 2 Paul Lifetimes in the past. Or another way to put it, I would have lived my life twice since Mark Twain kicked the bucket.

Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet almost 8 Paul Lifetimes ago. Imagine having seven previous lives between seeing plays at The Theatre outside the city of London and sitting here in Portland waiting for the theater to reopen.

Alexander the Great, that sexy homo conqueror, established the cultural center of the world in Alexandria almost 43 Paul Lifetimes ago.

The earliest construction of what we now call the Great Wall of China was started by the Xia Dynasty 73 Paul Lifetimes in the past. I can only imagine how many children I’d have sired in 73 lifetimes. Well, okay, maybe none. But it was a passing thought.

Ancient Egypt started with nomadic people farming along the River Nile going back 136 Paul Lifetimes. It turns out gold was plentiful enough, but silver was an extremely rare and precious metal.  Think how rich I’d be today if I’d pocketed a few gold coins and held onto them through 136 reincarnations!

The earliest painting we’ve discovered so far was created 835 Paul Lifetimes ago in a cave in Indonesia. If I had 835 more lifetimes to cultivate my artistic skills I might draw this creature with three dimensions.

But let’s go back to ‘the beginning’ which is to say the evolution of homo sapiens that happened about 5,454 Paul Lifetimes before this one.  And my ancestors, the basic homo genus, stood upright about 36,363 Paul Lifetimes in the past.  I can’t even imagine living three hundred times let alone thirty-six thousand.

Of course people in the past didn’t live as long as I have.  Some of my ancestors probably only made it to their early 20s before something ate them or someone else killed them.

But it helps me to put this seemingly endless period of pandemic into proper context by gauging how far back our human ancestry stretches, and all the plagues, wars and climate changes we’ve endured. We’ve come a long way, baby.

My only wish for the future is the drive thru at Starbucks moved faster. I hate wasting time.