Dan Rattiner's Stories

Reincarnation: I Hope to Modify My Contract with the Lord

Dan looks at Hamptons flooding and returning to Earth after death.

As global warming continues, the East End is in ever increasing danger of severe flooding. The early stages of this have already begun in such places as Dune Road and Gerard Drive in Westhampton and East Hampton, respectively, where the highway departments have paved the level of the roads higher so they won’t get washed over.

Now, a new report says that by 2045, about a third of the East End will likely endure frequent flooding and, with that, homes and property will be damaged or destroyed. A map shows where it will get most severe. That would be in downtown Southampton, Hampton Bays, the Quogues, Noyack, North Sea, the Moriches, Westhampton Beach and Sag Harbor.

The scientists who issued this report put a dollar amount on the flooding. Rising sea levels could impact real estate in Southampton Township valued at $3.6 billion. Southold and East Hampton Township get off far easier. The value at risk in East Hampton is $2.3 billion.

All I can say is that I’m glad I live in East Hampton. East Hampton, I guess, rises more quickly into highlands than Southampton.

Global warming is something people don’t like to talk about. To avoid it, we’d have to almost immediately stop throwing carbon up into the atmosphere, go back to living life as it was in the 19th century before the introduction of the steam engine, or begin using energy from wind, sunshine, nuclear and newer forms of power.

This, our leaders clearly do not intend to do. And I can’t blame us. Traveling around in airplanes and cars is fun. Flicking a switch and turning on the lights is fun. Drinking bottled water from Fiji—brought here by diesel burning container ships—is fun.

Anyway, the countries that signed on to reduce carbon emissions at the Paris Accord summit have already all missed their early goals by wide margins. The United States—thank you, Mr. Trump—has even withdrawn from the effort.

Of course, these problems in 2045 are not my problems. If I were to remain alive until then, I would be 110 years old. Not likely.

All of this has resulted in my wanting to modify the personal beliefs I hold about what happens after I die. For many, many years now, I have believed that when I die, my soul will leave this body and go to where God and his staff will have the opportunity to go over how I did as Dan Rattiner. I will be handed a ticket with a number and asked to sit in a waiting room with a lot of other souls until I am called up to hear the verdict and get a new assignment.

It could be that I come back as a different person. It could be that I come back as another kind of creature. A giraffe, perhaps. Or maybe a little bug. It will be related to how I did as Dan Rattiner. Was I good? Did I help others? Did Dan Rattiner get to do things to make the world a better place?

Based on this, my assignment will be a step up or down. Each kind of creature has different attributes. So though my soul lives forever, the level of self-awareness and pleasure I get from my upcoming assignments will vary.

Some day, the water on planet Earth will stop rising. According to mathematicians, when all the polar ice caps have fully melted into water, sea levels around the globe will level off 50 feet above where they are now.

I’ve got to tell you, that’s quite a hit. But I suppose we will make it through to that, retreating to higher ground along the way.

Sitting on that bench, my only request to God and his assistants is that I not come back for a while. I know I won’t be remembering the times I was here anyway, but I have another reason.

According to my current contract, I come back here as something else 50 years after I die. I wish to have a codicil added to my contract. I would like it to say this time I come back in 500 years. It’s a small modification. Just add a 0. By that time, though, it will all have been figured out here on Earth and the smoke will have cleared.

It’s not asking much.

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