I hope I live a good long life, but not if it means I get to heaven and am stuck being something like 89 decrepit years old for eternity.
The speculation is presumptuous for me, I admit, but I like to think I’ll make the cut. I’m kind to children and old people, never hog the passing lane for extended periods or send annoying ALL CAP E-MAILS. Sure, that’s setting the heaven bar pretty low, but by today’s standard’s it amounts to near saintly behavior.
I wonder about the demographics of heaven.
Right now, the life expectancy is nearing 80. But that’s only a recent trend. Just 200 or so years ago it was not uncommon for someone to expire at around 40 and for his friends to say, “I’ll misseth Miles, but he didst live a goodly long life. Now, let’s thou and I go burn a witch.”
Today, most of the people crowding the obituary pages are elderly and pissed off about it. I’ve never known a single senior to sit around and gush about the joys of excessive age.
And what about the sad unfortunates who die in infancy? Do they go to heaven as toddlers, forever in need of parental care? That’s seems terribly unfair, especially in light of them having their earthly lives snuffed out so young.
You’d think in heaven they’d at least be allowed to grow up a little, enjoy the liberty of obtaining a driver’s license and then, naturally, enjoy carnal activities in the back seat.
What about the thousands of souls who die daily of reckless or drunken misadventure? The headlines are full of accounts of hillbillies who blow up themselves or their redneck buddies constructing things like backyard rocket ships to deaden the boredom of their lives.
If they’re not given an opportunity to grow older and wiser then heaven might be full to busting with earthly idiots. That doesn’t sound like heaven. It sounds like an endless tape loop of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
Maybe in heaven we can put our ages on in the morning the way we do our clothes. You can wake up and decide that morning you want to be 21, ripped and sure you know everything.
Or maybe occupational considerations prevented you from spending too much time with the kids when they were young. You could say, “Today, I’ll be 38 with nothing to do but play with the kids.”
For many people, me included, that is exactly heaven.
But you’d get tired of that for eternity. And what if the kids don’t feel like being 6 and 4 that day? There could be conflict.
I’m lucky in that I can’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t really having fun. The indifference of the girls in my awkward years (for me, that lasted from 14 to about 33) was compensated by lively buddies who liked to joke and laugh.
There’d be days I’d love to be young and zooming down Earlswood Avenue on my banana seat bike, bent baseball cards like castanets on the spokes. But there’d be lots of nights I’d like to stay in with Val, a bottle of wine and “Survivor” host Jeff Probst sitting there telling us cool behind the scenes stuff from our favorite show.
I’m finding much to enjoy about what I’m optimistically calling my middle age years. It’s not unreasonable to assume I’ll make it another 46 years to 92. There’s golf, family time and I hope heaven allows for more uninterrupted reading time in the hammock than I have here.
Yes, I believe there’s much to look forward to in the years before the inevitable decline.
Of course, I could have it all wrong. Heaven might not be like that at all. I’ve talked to informed clergy who maintain that heaven is nothing but all the blessed believers praising and worshipping the Lord for all eternity.
Only the heretics would dispute that He is worthy of such enduring adulation, but the description puts to mind Mark Twain who was told heaven’s a place where no one smokes, drinks, eats, reads, or does anything but express joyful contentment.
Twain’s response: “You know my current way of life. Can you suggest any additions, in the way of crime, that will reasonably ensure my going to some other place?”
But I worry about getting to heaven in a me that’s either incomplete or past its expiration date.
My late grandfather lived to be 97. He often said in his sad, last months, “Growing old ain’t for sissies.”
I loved that old man, but he was wrong.
Living ain’t for sissies. This world’s a mess.
We can only hope heaven’s all it’s cracked up to be and that we won’t have to worry about hurt, loneliness or things like male pattern baldness.
I’m going to stop now and go try and do something soulful that’ll help ensure I get to one day find out for myself.