I don’t believe in heaven or hell.
Well, I find myself hoping for the existence of hell in regards to people like Jerry Sandusky, Chris Brown and people who block the intersection when the light turns green but I don’t really believe in it.
Where do bad folks go when they die? They don’t go to heaven where the angels fly but they don’t go to a lake of fire and fry either.
Heaven’s a nice idea – a place where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts – and part of me really wishes I believed in it.
I can see why people do and I understand the need to believe in something like this but honestly, I think the notion of heaven is a fairy tale for adults. A dulcet lullaby whispered under your breath to keep away the monsters under your bed.
I believe that death is final and when someone’s gone, that’s it.
There are no ghosts, there are no angels, there is no-one watching over you.
There is ash and there are memories. There are fading photographs and that is it.
I’m also getting to the point where I get irrationally angry when I hear things like, “They’re in a better place now.”
No, dude. They’re not.
And you know how I know that? It’s because they’re not at the table with me, laughing and eating a good meal. Do you honestly expect me to believe there’s a better place than that? Really?
Bukowski had a bluebird in his heart but my bluebird lives on my sleeve, merrily chirping and twittering away – “Don’t be sad.”
Bluebird from California is a place. on Vimeo.
So, my heart is a birdcage for a crow — black-billed and beady-eyed. He’s quiet for the most part and keeps to himself, but when he gets ornery? He’s a real pernicious little fucker.
However bleak this perspective may seem, I’m not utterly devoid of hope when it comes to the notion of the afterlife. I’m just…realistic.
Which is why I love the following piece by Aaron Freeman.
I do not believe in supernatural family reunions, pearly gates or a better place beyond. But I do believe in the first law of thermodynamics and that gets me through.
The notion that as was will ever be and that the people I love aren’t gone. They’re just less orderly…and considering how damn disorderly they were when they were around – this makes perfect sense.
You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.