Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Happiness, I Will Look For You. I Will Find You. And I Will Keep You.

God once told me that Earth is paradise and not Heaven, because the challenge of creating happiness for yourself is what brings you the most gratification. I didn't learn this until I died, in fact, the lack of gratification I found when I was alive would have made this an entirely abstract concept. I don't even know how often people realize how special the joy they create for themselves is. What we normally realize as humans is when things go wrong. The average living person is, in all likelihood, bound to exclaim that they're in a living hell at some point than that they're in Heaven. So, as an angel, part of the reason I'm so busy is because people in paradise think they're in Hell. We call that a paradox.

This is leading up to something that Sashial said to me the other day. "You've never been in the actual Hell, but I know when you were alive, you felt like you were."

"Let's say, I was in hell with a lower case 'h,'" I said.

She gave me a typical condescending yet concessionary shrug. "Whatever the f--- you want to call it, you were there. And now you're here. Have you ever thought about how it would feel if suddenly you were taken from Heaven?"

I was taken aback by that. "No! Why, should I? Is that possible?"

"No, of course not. Not for you. But in terms of human suffering, as an angel, you have to realize that people go through that. Happiness doesn't always put an end to insecurity. Some humans can live in the moment. Some can't. This may be hard to realize because you never felt you had something that might be taken, but sometimes recognizing human suffering is more complicated than looking for a frown or a tear."

"So, I have to recognize that people who are happy are going to become unhappy?"

"No," she said, "you have to prepare yourself for the idea that losing your paradise can be just as bad as being in your "hell with a lower-case h," or whatever."

"Why are you telling me this?" I asked.

"Because this is the part where it gets tricky. Your experience as an angel is growing. When you first started, you weren't ready to accept the idea that having happiness or complacency and losing it can be just as bad as existing in misery, but I think you're improving. You might not be so f---ing useless after all."

I said, "Everyone has a right to their own pain."

"Pretty smart."

"Well, Marley's the one who actually said that."

"I know she did," said Sashial. "Do you f---ing think I would use the word 'smart' in reference to you?"

I thought about it for a second, and said, "No. In fact not only would I be surprised, in way, I think I'd be oddly hurt."

She smiled. "Good boy."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

She Better Steer Clear Of The Shops On Bleecker Street

I was hanging out with Lira the other day, and she told me about this t-shirt she saw. "It said, 'I wish my grass was Emo, then it would cut itself.'" I started laughing, and she gave me one of her trademark frosty stares. "That's funny?"

"Well, yeah."

"And why is that funny?"

I actually struggled to come up with an explanation, and I wasn't sure if it was because sometimes it's difficult to sum up human behavior in way that Lira can understand, or if, when I thought about it, it actually wasn't funny at all. I tried telling her about some of the things I'd read about cutters, like how it's used to distract from emotional pain.

"Do you even remember what emotional pain is like?" she asked. "You haven't been dead that long, I know that void where your brain should be isn't much for retaining anything, but considuring what a mental whiner you were, I'd hoped you'd hold on to enough to see that there's no humor in someone dragging a razor across their arm. You really expect to be an angel without that?"

"Ok, let's back up for a second," I said. "Do you know what schadenfreude is?"

She put her hand on my head and gave me a gentle shake. "Did you actually find a way to kill brain cells that are already dead? I knew if someone could find a way, it would be you. I'm an archangel, you idiot, of course I know what that means. It's the malicious enjoyment of others' misfortune."

"And you also know how much I hated people, and for how long. Well, it's like, people either sympathize with the pain of others, or they take a certain satisfaction in it, as dispicable as that is. I'd always thought it was because people are such vile beings, but you also have to understand that it helps people deal with their own pain if they know that other people feel it too. When they're upset, and they walk around and see joy everywhere, it only angers them, because they feel more alone. Even if it's phony, because how can they tell? Knowing that others are screwed up makes people remember that other people are just like them, or at least it's a reminder that there's nothing really inherently wrong with them because pain is actually common."

"And that makes that stupid t-shirt funny?"

"Partly. But also there's a perception that that some overindulge in their own troubles for attention. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference, but it's gotten easier the longer I've been an angel."

Lira looked at me and smiled. "Sweetheart, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I knew all that. Like I said, I'm an archangel. I just wanted to see if you knew." She gave me a stern look as a way of saying she was serious and not just comedicaly saving face, but after the first time I spoke to her face to face, I never doubted her truthfulness anyway. "Your a good angel."

"Thanks," I said. "Sashial and I are going to the ball game tonight. You coming?" Her head dropped and I started to laugh. "Just kidding."