Heaven isn’t too far away

What is heaven supposed to be like? A lot of the major religions hang it over everyone’s head, like a prize, like that Chicago Bulls Starter jacket that your third grade teacher buys and promises to give to the student who can go the longest without talking in class. “But when are you going to give it to somebody already?” I’d scream out after two days of sitting on my hands, trying as hard as I could to sit still in my seat and not talk. “Robbie!” my teacher would scream, “Be quiet! You’re not getting any Starter jacket like that!”

So she basically told me that, for me, it’s not available. She would say it without saying it. It had to be theoretically accessible to me, even though there was no way I would win it. Because I’d already asked about the jacket like three times, right in the middle of class. I basically disqualified myself. So fine, if I’m not going to get the jacket, whatever, at least I don’t have to sit here then and pretend to behave. And the next time I’d get yelled at for talking I’d just say, “Well, I thought I was already out of the running,” and she’d say, “Yeah, well you still have to be quiet!” and I’d say, “Why do I still have to be quiet if there’s no shot of me winning the jacket?” and she’d snap back, “Because if you don’t be quiet, you’re going to the principal’s office!”

What a bunch of garbage. So it’s a contest to see who can follow the rules that we’re supposed to be following already anyway? What’s the point of the contest then? It cheapens everything. It cheapens the very rules that we’re supposed to be following. It’s an admission by the teacher that the rules are pretty stupid and pointless anyway, and she’s trying to bribe us into being quiet, please, for just one week, one day.

And it sucks because you know exactly who’s going to win the jacket. It’s going to be that kid that just sits there and never talks, ever. He’s quiet by nature. You’re going to reward somebody for being himself? I at least sat there and tried my best to change the nature of my personality. I actually put an effort into it. Are you giving out awards to inherent tranquility or to the person who tried the hardest? Because I totally tried the hardest.

The game is rigged from the start. That’s what all of that heaven talk was about. Yeah, it took me a while to get here. I got sidetracked by the Starter jacket competition. It still really gets me all agitated, just thinking about that kid, silent even as he put on his jacket, no emotion on his face, no joy. I don’t even think he cared, not about the jacket, not about anything.

Anyway, heaven. It’s held up like a prize. Don’t do this or you won’t go to heaven. Try to be a good person. Why? So you can go to heaven. What if I don’t want to go to heaven? Does anybody else think heaven would be totally boring? I don’t care if it’s the coolest most relaxing most euphoric place ever, you stretch that out to infinity and it’s going to get boring. It just has to.

But maybe that’s the secret of heaven, that you’ll never get bored of it. But that’s a cop-out. It doesn’t make any sense. If that’s the case, that I’ll never get bored, then it’s not really me that’s in heaven. Because the real me, the person sitting here writing this garbage, gets bored really fast. So if all of the sudden I’m in a different spiritual plane and everything’s all heavenly and I’m not at some level just the slightest bit over it, then it’s not me. I’ve been reprogrammed for everlasting enjoyment. The core of my very being has been changed. And maybe that person really will enjoy it, but it won’t be me, because that person doesn’t exist. And if that’s the argument for heaven, tranquility, peace, happiness, bliss, than just hand me my mortar and pestle, give me a few bars of Xanax, and pass me a straw, because that’s what it sounds like.

And now for some really tired arguments, some cheesy dime store philosophizing. What if I go to heaven and I want to see my dead grandfather? Is he going to be an old man or what? Is he going to look like he did in his twenties? His thirties? Will he look young but still have all of the life experience he accumulated past that age? Will he still be scarred by the suffering of a long slow death? A person is never just one person throughout his or her life. They grow, they learn stuff, they get jaded, they cope. Who’s this guy going to be up in heaven telling me he’s my grandfather? And what will I look like to him, a little boy? The adult that I am that he never got to meet?

And what about the person who marries somebody else after his or her spouse dies? Somebody asked this to Jesus once and he didn’t even have a good answer. He was just like, “Will you idiots just shut up will all of this heaven bullshit?” I paraphrased, obviously. Or maybe not. I never trusted that whole Aramaic to Latin to Greek to Slavic to English translation anyway. Google translate can’t even do better than a C plus job at translating English to Spanish. Why would I trust a millenniums-old oral tradition?

No, I don’t think heaven is a real place. And whatever, I don’t claim to have any answers about anything. Maybe it does exist. I have no idea. My whole real point of this piece is really about the people who hold heaven up like a prize and make you do stuff to win it. One, who the hell are you to be holding something up over my head? I’m probably much taller than you, so I can just grab it. Two, you’re probably just as clueless as my third grade teacher, totally out of her element, unable to get a bunch of kids to stop acting like a bunch of kids, and you make up some ridiculous contest as a desperate attempt to exercise some control.

Three, I’ve reread this and come to the conclusion that I made an excellent choice in not picking philosophy as a major. I ain’t no good at philosophizing. I’m trying to end this here on a note of levity. But I’m still so f’n pissed about that Starter jacket. I don’t even think it really fit that kid who won it. It was way too big. Couldn’t the teacher just have returned it and exchanged it for one that was this kid’s size? No, I doubt she even bought it in the first place. She probably found it somewhere and it already had the tags removed, so she couldn’t return it. And she was like, “I might as well throw this out. Wait a second, maybe I can use it to bully my students into submission. Yeah that sounds like a good idea.”

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