Shell Shocked: Thinking about the afterlife
I’m at a point in life where I begin to think seriously of an afterlife. The questions that recur are – is there one? And if so, what will it be like?
Please understand that I plan to live a long life and fully enjoy all earthly pleasures. But being in the autumn of my years I can’t help but wonder which philosophy or religion to hang my hat on. All I know about being a human being with mortality hovering in the background is that I have a body and a brain. Together those two entities have given me a lot of earthly pleasure as well as pain. I know what I have and what to expect.
But if there’s an afterlife will I become a disembodied presence hanging around with other disembodied presences? Will I be wearing a white gown over my disembodied presence? Will my next home be up in a cloud somewhere? Will I be playing a harp? Would I need to take lessons first? If I have no body how will I be able to play?
Which leads to the next question: Where is heaven anyway? If I’m to go there shouldn’t I prepare now for the journey? How does one get there anyway? Do I rent a celestial car? Will Santa’s reindeer moonlight between Christmas seasons and offer me a ride?
I would really like to prepare so that I know what I’m in for. Is heaven truly a reward for those who have lived a good life? Or is there a possibility I will be denied? And if I’m denied does that mean that there would be no afterlife in store for me? Would I just cease to exist?
But I plan to think positively about an afterlife and look forward to my role in it. I assume if I no longer have a body that I’ll be communicating with other afterlife residents in another way. Would it be a wordless form of communication like brain waves? Is that what a soul is like? So many questions.
What about all the people who have gone on to heaven since time began? Given the fact that there have been trillions of human beings on earth will heaven become too crowded? Does heaven have a suburb? Would I be given a rent controlled cloud far from downtown heaven?
Will I be seeing long lost friends? The guys on my block who got to heaven before me? My parents? Babe Ruth? Attila the Hun? Will I have the opportunity to run into Abraham Lincoln and find out what he remembers of that play he was watching when he left for heaven? Could I get his autograph? Or would there be no such thing as autographs because those who reside in heaven don’t have arms or legs?
Are there wars in heaven or does everyone live in pure peace? I don’t think I’d want an afterlife in which the same wars and inhumane treatment we have right here on earth carry over. Does God make sure that heaven is all that it’s cracked up to be? Or does He reign over an overpopulated, underwhelming, overly promoted entity?
Do all races, ethnic minorities, rich and poor dwell together in perfect harmony? Or is there the same caste system we already have here on earth?
And one final question. If there’s life on other planets do those souls all go to the same heaven? If so, I would be meeting some really interesting people. I’ll learn more about the universe from them than I would on earth.
If there’s an afterlife then death is just a halfway house to a more rewarding place. And it’s eternal. Right? I’m not a very religious man but the mere possibility that a far, far better place awaits us is very tantalizing.