Kevin Smith is on the board of directors for the Centre of Inquiry, Canada’s premier venue for humanists, skeptics and freethinkers.
Around age four, I had grandfather envy. My friends had granddads and I wanted to know where mine were. The answer was unexpected: one that shook the foundation of a child’s innocence. It was my first glimpse into the human condition, one that subconsciously consumes us and affects how we live from that day forward. I learned about death.
Coincidentally, it was the first time I heard about Heaven, which made my fears much more livable. At that age we have sponge-like brains. We absorb everything without analyzing, so I went on doing kid things, content that one day somewhere, somehow, I would meet up with my absentee papas.
It wasn’t until I reached the age where we develop logic that I revisited Heaven. I had never been on speaking terms with God, thinking of him much like characters out of childhood fables. By association, his house with many rooms was, for me, a mythical human creation that softened the finality of our existence. The truth hurts; reality bites, but what are you going to do? No one is getting out alive so I decided to enjoy this one life and hope — not pray — that I live to at least 110.
It baffles me that a select few will be burdened with guilt, denying themselves life’s simple pleasures in order to get front row seats in Paradise. I advise against this as life passes quickly and there are only two end games.
The first, and more probable: Heaven is an irrational concept — death is final. The second and more threatening: picture your family, the ones you love unconditionally yet need time away from, and living with them for eternity. Either way, I know that this life is real and it’s wonderful. Heaven can wait.
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