Once a radioactive isotope couldn’t wait to complete its first half-life. All the attainments and delights it once was positive would come to it in due course now struck the isotope as lying instead on the far side of the line that separated this half-life from the next. The isotope understood very well that each nanosecond experienced was in fact a nanosecond of decay and that it might make more sense to seek out any means to hold back time’s forward rush rather than urge it on. But despite this awareness, future half-lives remained a hypnotic attraction, what with the possibility of multiple do-over opportunities for any disappointments suffered in this first one. Satisfactions near at hand looked trivial by comparison with those visualized from afar. If the isotope could just hurry up the start of its next half-life, maybe then it would feel really alive at last. The uneven shimmer of its early years would surely yield to a more mature self-confidence, with deeper strengths and the corresponding accomplishments it had looked forward to from the beginning. For other isotopes to tell this one it had everything backwards and that someday it would actually grow nostalgic for its first half-life and long to recover what it so strained to be rid of now merely demonstrated how little they must have understood of their own past. Their repeating ad nauseam that old “gather ye rosebuds while ye may” line merely sharpened the isotope’s impatience. Weren’t “rosebuds” just so many seductive distractions, making them precisely what it should reject if it was ever to escape the limits of its present half-life? Hadn’t these other isotopes once been young themselves and dreamed of all the future must hold? What happened to them that they couldn’t focus on anything but their lost half-lives now?
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans