You've been doing one hundred pushups every morning for the past 39 years. Today, do only 99. When you get up from the carpet, you'll find that your house is a run-down shack and the idyllic town in which you've lived all of your life is impoverished and there's graffiti everywhere.
"All over the place," you'll whisper to yourself as you take in all of the graffiti. "Even on the tree which once held my beloved tire swing."
A voice will bellow from behind you that you never swung from any tree in this town, because you were never born. You'll turn around and you'll see that the voice is coming from this big fat ghost.
"Is this because I only did 99 pushups today?" you'll ask.
The ghost will shrug. "They just send me down here when someone's given up on life. I'm here to show you what the world would be like if you were never born."
"But I haven't given up," you'll say. "I just cut down on my pushup regimen today. I've been doing 100 pushups a day for the past 39 years without fail. Today I wanted to see what would happen if I only did 99. I could argue that I was trying to live even more by throwing a little bit of variety into my life."
The ghost will say, "Look! Your mother is digging a latrine!"
Across the street you'll see your mother looking filthy, digging into the ground with a shovel.
"Since she never had you, she never felt any need to make anything special of her life. Now she digs latrines."
You'll watch your mother take a break and light a cigarette.
"And look, here comes your Dad!"
"My Dad?" you'll say.
You father will pull up in a pickup truck and get out to hand your mother her lunch box. Then he'll give her a kiss. The truck will read "Kevin and Cecile's A-Plus Latrine Digging." Kevin and Cecile are your parents.
"Neither of them really saw any reason to go for the gold, not without a son to pass on their dreams to, so they opened this latrine digging business and are making ends meet."
You'll say to the ghost, "You mean my mother and father are still together? But my Dad ran off when I was two. It broke my mother's heart and she never laughed again. Are you saying that if I was never born my father would have stayed with my mother?"
You'll watch them talk and then just before your father hops back in the truck, he'll say something that makes your mother bust out in laughter. Then he'll drive off.
The ghost will realize that he created an uncomfortable situation. "So anyway," he'll say. "If you want your mother to stop digging latrines and, um, if you wanna see all this graffiti go away, I suggest you go back and do that last pushup."
"But then my mother and father won't be together," you'll say. "She'll be miserable. Look how happy she is without me having been born."
The ghost will look at her. There will be a glow about her.
"Yeah, but the graffiti," the ghost will say.
You'll keep your eyes on your mother, taking in as much of her as you can. It's such a marvel to see her truly happy.
"Man my Dad sure must have hated me. He really loved her, and yet he still ran off."
The ghost will try to come up with some way to steer you towards a decision, since he can't leave until you either embrace life with a renewed vigor or you give up once and for all. But he won't think of anything to say but, "This is a tough break kid. Sorry."
You'll turn to the ghost and he'll hold you tight.
Happy 99 Pushups Day!