Thursday, February 26, 2009

What Say You, Horatio?

John Kinsella: “Is this Heaven?”
Ray Kinsella: “It's Iowa.”
JK: “Iowa? I could have sworn this was Heaven.”
RK: “Is there a Heaven?”
JK: “Oh yeah. It's the place where dreams come true.”
[Ray looks around, seeing his wife playing with their daughter on the porch] “Maybe this is Heaven.”

From the motion picture A Field of Dreams

Where do we go when we die?

Do we go anywhere? I have to believe we do.

I mean, if there is no Heaven, and we don't go anywhere after we have shaken off our mortal coils, that pretty much leaves two possible endings.

The first option, is there is no Heaven, consists of you lying in a wooden box wearing more make-up than the ladies at the Macy's cosmetics counter, wearing that tie you always hated, waiting for the worms.

The second option,if there is no Heaven, means you end up walking the Earth and being shot in the head as you zombie-walk around the shopping mall (Hey. All the other undead were doing it! You just wanted to be sociable) Or you might wind up on the television series Ghost Hunters where you will be nothing more than a blurry orb or a bad digital recording (Ghosthunters: "I think he said Chuck." Dead-You: "No you freaking idiots. I said “Fuck!” As in leave me the fuck alone. I'm trying to be dead here. Do you mind?”)

I'd like to think you go somewhere when you die.

And I believe the final destination is Heaven.

You might call it Nervanna or Moksha or Paradise or Valhalla or Elysium. And that is perfectly fine. Shit. If you believe the mother ship is going to beam you up and take you back to the Planet Xanadu, then who I am to say you're a delusional, psycho, nut job?

I know I'm going to Heaven when I die. I just want to know what to expect.

What is Heaven?

Belinda Carlisle said “Heaven is a place on Earth.” What? Like Vegas? The band Warrant sang that “Heaven isn't too far away” and Brian Adams was pretty sure that finding Heaven was as simple as looking into the eyes of the person you just had made love to. I think we all know that look and I'm not sure if that is Heaven because I don't think there is awkward cuddling in Heaven. Or cigarettes. (Yeah. That's right! I said it. I think Heaven is Smoke-Free.)

David Byrne of The Talking Heads sings that “Heaven plays my favorite song. Plays it all night long.” And, all though that sounds good, there is an underlying warning from Byrne that there is an absence of change in Heaven. I don't like the idea of a boring Heaven. It'll be like The Breakfast Club with clouds and harps and shit.

Eric Clapton wonders if loved ones who have gone on before him will remember his name. Johnny Cash is much more confident that he will remember his loved ones and they will remember him, and in Meet Me In Heaven, sings “Can't be sure of how it's going to be when we walk out into that light across the bar, but I'll know you and you'll know me out there beyond the stars.”

Patrick Swayse's Sam tells us in Ghost that “It's amazing” and that we take the love inside with us.”

The Los Lonely Boys aren't as concerned as to what Heaven is. They want to know how far Heaven actually is. I'll admit, men rarely ask for directions, so you know that Heaven must be pretty important to them if they are going to put aside their man-pride to get there.

In The Meaning of Life, The Pythons tell us that “it's Christmas every day in Heaven” and “there's great films on tv and Sony Walk-Man headphone sets and and the latest video games.”
I'm not opposed to it being Christmas every day in Heaven, and the thought of reliving an never-ending child-like innocence wrapped in a big warm blanket of Christmas morning memories is appealing.

If Heaven turns out to be the whole other Christmas day experience, though, with it's tinsle you can't vaccuum up and the disappointment of receiving that 3 pack of Fruit of the Loom underpants and not the GI Joe with Kung Fu grip you were hoping for, well, then, eternity is gonna feel just a little bit longer.

And would a Christmas Every-Day Heaven also include visits to those relatives whose houses smell of cat pee? Let's hope not.

Led Zeppelin said that “even if the stores are all closed, with only a word, you can get what you came for.” Shop-a-holics are gonna love that.

And the customer service has got to be better? Hasn't it? I mean. It's Heaven. If you can't get a friendly smile and a “thank you we appreciate your business” as you check out of the TARGET:HEAVEN, then, seriously, what's the point?

There seems to be a lot of theories on what Heaven is, based on, of course, what religion you are. And if you are not a religious person, well, then you know you're going into the ground, or you're gonna get sprinkled into the ocean (I can never hear that someone did that without the image of someone feeding their fish over the side of their fishtank in their den. Sorry. It's the truth. "Rest in Peace, Doug. Here feeshy-fesshy!") or shot into space and then all that remains of you are some family photos, unpaid parking tickets, shirts you forgot to pick up from the cleaners, and that girl you never called back even though you wanted to but now she thinks you're an asshole.

I was raised Catholic, so my idea of Heaven, up to the age of about 10, was big white clouds, somewhere up there (I'm pointing upwards, just in case you didn't know)

Sitting on his throne is GOD looking a little like Jerry Garcia, a little like Santa Claus, and a little like Gandalf from The Hobbit. There is a Pearly Gate and St. Peter decides on whether or not you can enter or not.

Ah. Catholic guilt. The gift that keeps on giving.

I'm not 10 anymore, and I am certainly not a practicing Catholic.

This is not about religion, though. I'm not going to argue about all the different ideas about what or who GOD is.

I'm here asking the question.

What is Heaven?

As a huge fan of movies, my image of Heaven has been influenced to a greater extent than my 5 years in Catholic private school.

The movies have certainly created many different images of the hereafter. A place thick with white clouds is a real popular of the hereafter in the movies and I always feel bad for the people who lived their lives in Los Angeles.

Greek and Roman architecture have been used quite often to create the setting of Heaven in movies. I'm not sure I like the idea of spending eternity in an empty version of the The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Heaven should be warm and light and marble can come off as cold and stern. If Heaven was a huge building with marble columns, I think I would always be afraid that some security guard-like figure would scold me for running and having fun and tell me to “shhhh” and to “mind the irreplaceable art.

I'm not sure I want to spend all of eternity in my Aunt Tillie's parlor where if you even go near that porcelain figurine collection “oh-you just wait and see, young man.”

Maybe Heaven is a personal thing.

Rose didn't go to Heaven at the end of Titanic, did she? Remember? She went back to the boat and to Leo/Jack. But maybe it wasn't really all of her? Maybe it was just that part of her which longed to be together again with her first real love? Maybe it was 34.5% percent of Rose who walks through the doors at the end of the movie and joins Jack on that grand staircase.

I like the idea (as presented in Titanic) that we can visit those certain moments of our life which brought us incredible happiness and love and warmth, and maybe Heaven allows us to do that. Maybe we can choose from a menu of memories and re-live (can you re-live something if you're dead?) that moment for a period of time?

Wouldn't it be great if Heaven, or some part of Heaven, was your 5th birthday party? What if there were balloons and a clown (unless you were traumatized by clowns or balloons when you were alive that is)...and a pony and a big cake and you had never been so happy in your whole little kid life?

Maybe Heaven is a family picnic and everyone is there and the sun is shining and the fried chicken is crisp and the potato salad has just enough mayonnaise in it. And there is soft ball and volleyball and a campfire and smores and kids laughing and fireworks and sleeping under the stars.

Maybe you get to experience that concert you performed in which you never sang better and the audience loved you and gave you a standing ovation. Perhaps it was the night you killed it on stage during open night and that guy with the tears in his eyes said you were the funniest person he had ever heard.

Maybe it will be your fishing trip with your grandfather or the birth of your daughter? Maybe it was the first time you made love to that person who wrapped their heart around yours and changed your life forever.

Will you get to choose what day or days to live over and over again? Is Heaven all about personal choice?

Haven't you earned it?

After a life-time of going to your job and paying your taxes and shaving and never saying anything to that jerk you worked with even though he always had food in his teeth and always smelled like poo...

Haven't you earned the right to define your eternity after a life of recycling and not eating that entire box of Pepperidge Farm cookies even though you really wanted to but knew it was just wrong and pretty gross and maybe someone else would want some...

..and renting P.S. I Love You
(even though Death Race 2000 had Jason Statham in it and the dvd box was infinetly cooler! C'mon! Not another chick film! Jeez!”) and eating those brussel sprouts that were on your plate because there were starving kids in China who weren't lucky enough to have brussel sprouts (and who cares that you said you would be more than happy to mail them your brussel sprouts?! you would even use your allowance money,for Pete's Sake!!)

You spent a life-time being a decent guy for the most part. Doesn't that rate having some say in how you want to spend eternity? Doesn't that merit being able to experience the first time you rode a bike all by yourself with no push off from your Dad and no horrible mishaps with sneaker laces in bike chains?

In the Heaven I imagine it will be okay to be different. In fact, the word different will never refer to people again...only weird tasting food your daughter-in-law makes (Oh my. Is that baloney and mushroom? Well, that's different.)

It won't matter that you are white or black or yellow or brown. It won't make a difference if you are gay or straight. It won't matter if you are fat or skinny. People won't care if your hair isn't perfect and if your wearing jeans from last year or sneakers that weren't endorsed by some athlete.

In Heaven, your dog who died when you were 12 is there and he is waiting to play ball.

There are no sick babies in Heaven and grandchildren visit (and hug and kiss and talk to) their grandparents even though they're old and smell like medicine.

Heaven doesn't concern itself with penis size, breast size, the type of car you drive or your income.

I think Heaven smells like a grandmother's kitchen when she was baking chocolate chip cookies. And I think Heaven is rainstorms went you want to smell rain and snow when you want to make snow-angels.

I have also always imagined that in Heaven all of your questions will be answered. My vision of Heaven includes a reference library in which I will be given my own laptop and allowed unlimited access to Heaven's versions of Google and Wikipedia.

Any question I have will be answered.

Who was behind 911? UFO's. What's the deal? Is there a Bigfoot? What really happened to Amelia Earhardt? Who killed Jon Benet Ramsey? Who shot Kennedy? The Sopranos series finale. What the fuck? David Hasselhoff-really talented or really lucky?

I'm hoping there will be answers and if not from a search engine, then maybe from a simple one-on-one with GOD over coffee at Starbuck's.
(C'mon. You KNOW there is going to be a STARBUCK's in Heaven. They're everywhere! And there are no long lines to wait in and the coffee is free. Your mouth is watering just a little, isnt it?)

Maybe it won't be GOD who answers my questions. And maybe it won't be a computer. Perhaps it will be someone I loved and who I have missed and after a hug and a kiss to the top of my head, they will sit with me and talk with me and answer all the questions I have.

BUT! Maybe it will be GOD who will sit with me, or walk with me, or take a long train ride with me (That would be cool. wouldn't it? A long train ride through a sunny and glorious European countryside with the guy who created waterfalls and giraffes and the taste of honey. Face to face with HIM. And on a TRAIN!)

A one-on-one with The ALMIGHTY? I know. Sounds like an episode of Inside the Actor's Studio with James Lipton. And you know me-I'm going to have a huge stack of blue index cards sitting on top of my little desk!

(Between you and me, I can't wait to hear GOD's answer to “What occupation other than the one you have now, would you like to have had?” and best yet, “GOD. What is your favorite curse-word?”)

I think I will have all of eternity to ask all sorts of people all sorts of questions.

My grandmother, my father's mother, will understand me and I will understand her. We will speak neither in German or English, but rather, in the universal language of love, and for the first time ever, and forever, we will laugh together and really, really talk.

I will talk to my mother's father who died before I was born and we will be joined by my grandmother and they will answer all my questions and let me sit between them and just be.

Maybe it will be Einstein? ( I know that if my girlfriend meets him she is going to try and do something with that hair. Just let her do it, Al. Don't try and fight it.) Maybe it will be Ghandi (Hey, Mohandas. Want some of my burger? It's delicious! Yummm... Only kidding. Maybe some...ONION RINGS?)

(I know. I know. Keep that up and I won't have to worry about what Heaven is like. I just better pack for a warm climate.)

Maybe I will chat with Elvis or Mozart or Socrates or an electrician from Ohio who died in 1952 and who loved his family and his friends and who was just a nice guy and who wouldn't mind shooting the breeze with the new guy.

I guess it doesn't matter really. I don't have control over the outcome.

Or do I?

As long as I have some answers and some peace afterwards.
I hope that's what Heaven is. PEACE.

PEACE on Earth. PEACE of mind. PEACE in my heart.


and that's jody with a “j”


  1. you know, its funny. I am a practicing Christian, yes. I must admit that while I am (only in the past few years) aware of the physical descripton of the Christian Heaven found in Revelations, I haven't spent much time wondering what it will be like. There is a book called "90 Minutes in Heaven" where Pastor Don Piper has a wreck and is dead for 90 minutes. The book is his account of what happened in that 90 minutes he claims he went to Heaven. Ive had parts of the book read to me and I've gotta say I wouldnt mind that kind of heaven. All of the people he loved who died before came to greet him, all kinds of music was playing at once and yet in harmony, and he felt total peace. Believe it ? Who knows?
    (Im assuming there is a built in anti boredom chip so i won't worry about what to do once there). I think you automatically have all of the answers to all the questions. I don't think I'll have to ask anyone. Im hoping there are at least team huddles with the Big Guy every so often. I think i will have to account for my life but I know my "Daddy" loves me even more than I love my own babies (hard to believe THAT could be true). I think it will be ok in the end. I hope I get to see my great grandmom who died when I was 16 and who taught me to respect my body and obey my inner voice. She is mostly responsible for whomever I am today.I didnt get to see her before she died and didnt really know how sick she was until it was too late. This was a great topic to ponder on. You make me think....I like that.. (ok not always!) LOL

  2. This is actually only a test because i have heard that it has been difficult to post a comment. Sorry 'bout that. I'm new to all of this and learning my way around. Let's see what's going on, shall we?