The Invention of Heaven

If I were in charge of inventing Heaven, what would I do?

I will have dandelions blinking, out of the grass, bright yellow then impossibly fragile white balls, then the little inverted umbrellas floating away on the breeze, tiny Mary Poppins hanging from each seed.

I will keep my friends but I wouldn’t force them to come to my heaven, besides they will be busy inventing their own. I’ll throw in a few suggestions if I may.

I will keep this room as full of its spirit of kindness as possible. I will probably redesign this cement walled room to have wood floors and walls and a lower ceiling to trap the heat. The cathedral ceiling is lovely but not efficient. I will keep the windows and I will allow the view to change every day. Sometimes I will substitute views of Yosemite, the deserts of Nevada and Utah, sunrises anywhere, sunsets. Sometimes I will give the view a rest by filling the air with fog.

I will keep chocolate. I will keep Ben and Jerry’s ‘Cherry Garcia’ ice cream and their ‘chocolate fudge core.’ I will keep potatoes in all their delicious forms and corn on the cob, sometimes with butter and sometimes just the sweet kernels, and smokehouse almonds, and salads on hot days and soup on cold ones.

I will have sudden rain storms to clear the air and snow storms to shut us in and make a fire to keep cozy and warm. I will have lightning and thunder in the mountains and a dry tent by a river.

I will keep my jobs because I like the variety of people and experiences they provide. I like solving the puzzles

I will keep my cats and my daughter and husband – but not in that order.

In heaven I will be busy but with some empty time where I can stare and think.

The Christmas decorations will spontaneously appear all over the house and on January 7th they will begin to disappear, one at a time, just when I stop noticing their glitter and shine. None of the light bulbs will burn out.

The furniture will all weigh 10 pounds so I can move it around. It can weigh what it likes the rest of the time.

I will wash my face in many rivers and not worry about giardia. There will be sleek and cheerful otters on the banks. My cats will be able to transform into otters when they feel like it. I won’t need a boat to swim in Class II rapids and the water will be warm and there will be a large quiet pool at the bottom with friends smiling at me on the bank, tossing me a rescue rope. I will be able to hike the whole Pacific Crest trail in one long summer without a backpack. I’ll make it hard, but not impossible. I will raft down the Grand Canyon every time I want to feel small. I will paddle the Smith River in Montana when I want to laugh and take pictures of wildflowers and eat dinner with people I love. We will sit by the river and watch Mergansers and Falcons and Night Hawks and Golden Eagles. There will be the damp smell of distant rapids on sunny days. There will be a piece of duck-down slowly spinning on deep, dark, silent waters.

I want to take pictures of everything so I can show my friends what my heaven looks like.

People will be assigned death dates where they will blink out of time. Those who want to know when they are going to die can send an email to the powers that be. The others, because they aren’t afraid of the suffering that often accompanies death, will accept death as a partner to their life. They will be looking forward to reinventing heaven.

I am going to invent a system that creates random events but I am not going to dread anything.

Maybe that is the essential part of my heaven, the engine that runs it. No dread, no worry. I want to feel like I belong and that I will be able to face whatever comes next. Dread is the feeling I get when I am not sure about this.

The thought that I am already in heaven keeps interrupting me. I know I am not there because I am always dragging that bag of anxiety and uncertainty behind me, but I am close sometimes. I can feel it.

I can feel how close heaven is to me even when there is nothing I can do to change this world. Its like the beginning of a sneeze before you know its going to be a sneeze. There is something there but it hasn’t announced itself. There is already a heaven, I don’t have to invent one, and it’s very, very close.

It would be a good idea to leave that nasty bag of woes someplace where it can’t do any harm. Maybe in Area 51. But it does provide a contrast, doesn’t it? And maybe that bag of anxiety is actually what is keeping me alive and when it is time to leave it somewhere, that will be when I get to the final draft of heaven.

After ‘The Invention of Heaven’ by Dean Young