5 ‘Once in a Lifetime’ Events That Are Actually A Lot More Frequent Than Once in a Lifetime
We all need a little wonder in our life. It’s why we use so much hyperbole. If you decide to describe a particularly well-fried platter of dumplings as “life-changing,” chances are your local pedant is turgid with glee over being able to grill you on it. “Oh really? A bit of dough and meat CHANGED YOUR LIFE? Huh? Your path through this world was forever altered by a bit of cheap pork?” Sure, it may not be actually life-changing, like the decision to let this intolerable, wheedling conversational auditor into your friend group, but they’re pretty fucking good, man.
Another bit of hyperbole that gets thrown around frequently, most often by entrepreneurs whose business plan begins and ends with an Instagram account, is calling something a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” The problem here obviously being that life is made up of things happening, repeatedly and unavoidably, for the better part of a century. On that timeline, there are not a lot of true one-offs.
Here are five “once in a lifetime” occurrences that are more likely than not to come back around…
Catching A Foul Ball
Sure, it’s no home run ball, but catching a foul ball while watching a live baseball game is still a nice consolation prize. A scuffed bit of animal hide and tightly wound string that you can bring home and pop into a commemorative case to ensure no stupid normal dirt mixes in with that exciting baseball dirt. It’s simultaneously a souvenir and a story, one you can stare at through rheumy eyes while you tell your grandchildren that this very ball was hit by Bartleby the Scrivener, shortstop for the Wichita Whoevers.
The fact is, though, that if you’re a frequent attendee, especially if you’re picking seats based on likely trajectories, the odds really aren’t that astronomical. They basically sit right around 1 in 580. Nowhere near a guarantee, but still a whole lot better than a lottery ticket. Throw in the fact that the baseball season contains approximately 14 billion games, and, especially for a season ticket holder, there’s a good chance you can get your literal mitts on the genuine article.
Total Solar Eclipse
Speaking of astronomical, let’s take a look up, but never directly at, a total solar eclipse. When the time comes for the moon to utter its periodic, awe-inspiring “oop!” to the Sun itself, it’s a whole event. The world’s space nerds pull their beady little eyes away from their telescopes and bask in one of the few times the general public wants to hear about how orbits work. Work might even be halted momentarily for everyone to make little magic goggles out of an Amazon box and Reynolds Wrap so that they can see this celestial happening.
It’s worth dropping everything, and flocking to the streets to see the sky gods wrestle, right? After all, if you’re unlucky enough to miss it, it won’t happen again for another… 18 months. Wait, what? I was told this was a great, prophesied event, with a slight chance for a gate between heaven and hell to open. You’re telling me this happens more often than a leap year, something I definitively don’t give a shit about?
It’s true. The belief that it’s so incredibly rare is probably based on the fact that it takes 375 years to happen again in the same location. If you’ve got a deep love for orbs and an even deeper bank account, though, you could see dozens in your lifetime with the right travel plans.
Animals Going Extinct
Okay, time for a bummer! Anybody with a single fold in their brain should know, at this point, that we have completely fucked our ecosystem. Not in some loving, softcore “for her” porn way, either. Nope, we’ve done so via deep web, Tor Browser-required, debauchery that would make a horny German uneasy. Knowing that, when you start to think about it, it seems majorly unlikely that we’re not bleeding animal species like a gutted dodo bird.
The fact is, animals are going extinct constantly, in huge numbers. The reason we don’t see more coverage of each particular critter configuration we’re losing isn’t because it’s not happening, it’s because there are literally too many to report on without their own 24-hour news cycle. The World Wildlife Fund sets the floor for how many species go extinct every year at 10,000. We’re just out here treading water, hoping we’re the last ones to quit (or at least can give cockroaches a run for the strange, chitinous coins they use as money).
Next, let’s take a look at something that’s been used in language along with “once in a lifetime” to indicate something that very rarely happens: the phrase “once in a blue moon.” It’s tossed around with abandon, and for good reason — it’s a very fun phrase to utter. It feels mystical, like you’re some sort of soothsayer looking at rat bones through a cloud of aromatic smoke.
The amount of people in the modern age who know the timeframe that actually specifies are much less common. It’s been a good while since the Farmer’s Almanac was required reading, given that crop rotation isn’t a big part of a graphic design degree. It might even seem like a purely folksy and mysterious saying, but a blue moon is a very real, and measurably frequent occurrence. Specifically, it’s once every two to three years. To mash up two entries into one fun fact to throw into bar conversation, “once every total solar eclipse” would actually be more frequent than “once in a blue moon.”
If someone ever tells you an investment opportunity is “once in a lifetime,” check your pants, because they’re probably around your ankles, and waddle the fuck out of there.
Eli Yudin is a stand-up comedian in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @eliyudin and listen to his podcast, What A Time to Be Alive, about the five weirdest news stories of the week, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.