"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"
Saturday, September 17, 2011
What is Heaven?
My answer, and one of the answers of many that arise in the book, is that heaven is many things, and heaven is different for every single being on this planet. Heaven is what you want it to be. Nobody is not happy in their heaven.
I don't think that you necessarily design your heaven. You don't sit in a waiting room and pick out everything you want and the architecture of it all and then you wait for it to be designed and then you go....I mean of course thats a possibility, but I think it runs more along the lines of you arrive to heaven and everything is just...exactly the way you want, even things you didnt even know you wanted until they were yours. Heaven doesn't have to make sense. For example, I hope my heaven is a bookstore that extends for miles and miles and miles and there is a neverending string of books. Outside the bookstore, if I so choose to ever leave, will be a beach, and it will always be just the perfect weather that I'm looking for. There will be a little cafe on the beach, with lots of green tea always available. And rice krispies.
Next to this bookstore and a beach, there will be mountainous hills with natury birds chirping and sun shining through the tops of the wooded trees...in the middle of it all will be a lake, and a kayak for me to roam around in, take daily naps. The distant sound of children playing will be on the shore. Next to all this even more so, is a cute little town from the 1950s, where everyone I need to see or want to see is there, and everything is perfect. Not necessarily the human standard version of perfect, but my perfect. Sometimes one persons version of perfect is what someone else considers a flaw.
But, thats all for when we pass away from this planet. But what about heaven on Earth? Does it exist? My answer is yes.
Heaven on Earth is when you are lost. Sometimes actually, literally lost, but also--sometimes just emotionally and mentally lost. Lets say you are in the woods, on a hiking trail. You are by yourself. Maybe you do know where you're going (you're on a trail) but your soul doesn't really know....its sort of just in limbo, wandering around. You keep walking and walking and walking just to find something, anything. You start to hear some distant, happy voices. You have to make a decision..do you stick to the trail or do you seize the day and go see who those voices belong to? You decide to seize the day and you set off to follow the happy voices. Through some thick brush and thorny thorns, you eventually come to a clearing, a lake. The lake has a beach, with tiny rippling currents washing upon it. There are lots of people there, having a picnic, plenty of food. People are kayaking, canoeing, tubing, there are children laughing and playing and swimming in the water. They see you and gladly invite you to join. Grab a hot dog! They say. Or grab a kayak and go for it! They say. And you do. Because you made the decision to leave the boring trail you were on and you found this new....unexpected, place that you didnt even know existed. And now, you're here. And you're not dreaming. But it seems so surreal, so surreal in fact that you walk slowly and carefully, because you don't want to "wake yourself up" from this apparant dream. So you forget your life you left behind on that trail, just for the next couple hours. You know you'll go back to it. And you'll tell your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, son, daughter, mother, father, whomever, all about the amazing unexpected day you had. Or maybe you won't. Maybe you'll eventually return to the trail and that little cozy niche in the woods will always be your secret. Your secret place to go back to.
The other day I was driving home from Long Island, New york. It was the first sunny day after two hurricanes had graced their presence upon us. I was ho humming, driving along the boring highway (think about the trail), and was stuck in some pretty heavy traffic. All of the sudden, I look up and I see a sign for "Jones Beach, this way" so I made the split second decision (I literally thought about it and made up my mind in all of about 10 seconds) to turn the car that way. Once on the new highway heading directly towards the beach, I felt estatic! Free! I thought to myself, am I crazy?? What, I'm just going to go to the beach by myself and sit there and walk around and smell and feel the ocean.....yes! Yes I am! Who cares!? Despite having absolutely no original intention of going to the beach on my way home, there I was. I had been to this beach before, quite some time ago and it represents some very good memories with many loved ones. So it felt so good to be heading back.
Once parked and out of my car, I started walking to the water. There was just the perfect amount of people there. The perfect sounds. Seagulls, the waves, people playing some frisbee, splashing in the water. And just the wind was perfect even. As soon as I stepped onto that sand, I knew I had found a miniature Heaven on Earth. It was surreal indeed, and I wasn't sure if I was even dreaming or not. One minute you're driving home to New Jersey and the next you're standing on a beautiful beach, with your toes in the water, looking at the atlantic ocean.
I've encountered a few "heaven on Earth's" in my life, and they will always be treasured in my heart. Some I will never get to go back to, but will forever remain in my memory. But sometimes thats the best part about finding a Heaven on Earth- sometimes it only exists that one time. If you try and find it again, sometimes you won't. Sometimes it will change. Thats the magic of it. Heaven is always changing.
Have you ever found a Heaven on Earth? Its different for everyone. For some, its under a car fixing it. For others its driving across America on a complete whim. For some, its taking the next flight to wherever and finding peace and a new life in that new town. It can be anything!
Here are some glorious pictures from my little beach heaven excursion:
With so much love,
~A writer in a nurse's body