We’ve all heard of the stairway to Heaven. And many of us know the Bible story where this guy, I forget his name, has a vision and he sees these angels climbing up and down a ladder to and from Heaven. I think a lot of people know that story.
I hate the stairway thing and I hate the Bible story. Stairs and ladders are a stupid way to get to heaven. Inconceivably stupid. If that’s how one gets into heaven then I’m not interested. I prefer the flying bed idea, or I’d take Willy Wonka’s glass elevator filled with plush pillows and a wine dispenser.
Anything but stairs. I’ve had enough stairs. The building I work in has three floors and I always take the stairs to go down to the break room. It’s not far, but think about how many stairs I’ve climbed over the years. It really builds up, and I’m telling you it’s no way to travel. Especially not to Heaven. And ladders aren’t any different. In fact they are worse. They’re like stairs for your legs and your arms.
Thankfully stairs and ladders aren’t the only depictions of how to get to Heaven. An escalator is another mode of transit. I saw it depicted in a movie once. I forget the movie’s title, but I remember thinking an escalator is really poor alternative to stairs. They’re more of a teaser really. “Hey look how easy it is! The stairs move on their own!” Yeah, exactly. Imagine standing in place all the way to Heaven. Horrible. Whatever you do, don’t lock your knees.
Another movie had a shuttle bus, which is a significant improvement. Some movie from the 90s I think. Actually, it might have been the same movie with the escalator. The shuttle bus might have been there simply to take the dead to the escalator. Imagine the disappointment with that. Everyone’s bouncing along singing “The Wheels on the Bus” when suddenly it stops and everyone gets out expecting harps and giant love sacks, but no, it’s an escalator. Shit.
Trains are another depiction. Probably the best. Certainly my favorite so far. There’s a train for the dead in the final Harry Potter movie. Well it was actually just a station platform, but a train would have come, and Harry could have boarded, but of course he didn’t wait for the train. He had to resurrect and make the audience happy. Except for me. That whole scene on the platform to heaven is really hard for me to watch. I keep thinking, wait for the train you idiot, wait for the train. But of course he has to be the hero. Has to go back to the war and kill Mr. Lizard face Voldemort. It’s disgusting.
But I like the train idea. The cabins would all have king sized bunks (no one likes to sleep alone), free high speed WiFi, and a killer sound system. There would be a casino. I don’t know what people would win, being dead and all, but I’m sure something could be arranged ), naturally there would be no need for a smoking car. I don’t imagine the dead can get cancer or bother with second hand smoke. Of course the dining car would be my favorite spot. Each booth would be equipped with a tablet computer because the menu would be so comprehensive that you’d have to type key words into Google to find out what amazing thing you can eat.
Oh, and there would also be a full bar and Tom Waits on the piano. I figure he’ll go before I do.
But the stairway or ladder, or even an escalator…. no no no. That doesn’t work for me. If the distance to heaven is little more than a flight or two of stairs, then I’m not interested. Heaven needs to be significantly far away. Even for God. Or gods. Or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
When I die I don’t want to simply poof and wow I’m in Heaven. It needs to be a real trip. There’s no rush. I won’t be commuting to a new job (god, that better not be what happens). If I miss a connecting flight or train, so what. I’m sure the stop-overs will have amazing gift shops. So I’ll take my time, sort of set out on a cruise into the metaphysical sea of the afterlife. I’ll need time to process what just happened. I could mingle with some of the other newly-deads, you know, be dumfounded together. And who knows, maybe the trip to Heaven is Heaven itself. Or a large part of it anyway.
But stairs are out. There will be no stairs, or a ladder. For the love of gods not a ladder. I’ve done enough working. When I die I refuse to exert myself physically. A stroll between train cars is about as much exertion as I intend to … well, exert. I want a booklet filled with boarding passes. I want a neck pillow and those little peanut packets you get on airlines. I’ve spent my entire life arriving. When I die, I’d like the idea of arrival to be a hypothetical game philosophers like to play.
I want to set out into the Great Beyond without any idea or interest in where I’m headed or how long it will take. I will have it no other way. The trip must take time; the experience must be like nothing else. Otherwise the Great Beyond isn’t very great and doesn’t go very far beyond.