Sunday, July 7, 2002

What If Las Piedras Island Really Is Heaven?

There’s no doubt that this place is special, but there are times when Nathan is sleeping and I’ve had time to be alone and look around at the place where we’ve landed that I think to myself, “What if I’m really dead, something happened that I can’t remember and I died and now I’ve been transported to this sanctuary in the woods.” It could be heaven or it could be a way station, a purgatory, a place where we are to await further instruction, our next assignment. Heaven or hell is really a matter of perspective anyway. I mean it’s not like I strapped a bomb to my chest, blew up some infidels, and am now getting serviced every night by a harem of virgins. Whose heaven is that? (Just a rhetorical question).
My point is, people spend their entire lives thinking or dreaming of some imaginary place that is better than where they are now. What if this is it? (And by “this” I don’t mean Las Piedras Island. At least not for everyone). I mean, what if we all have the capacity to make our lives into the ideal existences promised to the religious in the next world if they follow the rules in this one. (Billy stopped, poured himself a cup of coffee, went downstairs to get his trusty dictionary, and looked up the word “delusional”). “delusion n. – 1. a false belief or opinion. 2. a persistent false belief that is a symptom or form of madness. delusional adj. < Do not confuse delusion with illusion.” Other interesting words heading nearby pages “deleterious, depression, descent, despondent, devil-may-care, dialectic.”
I’m not saying I’ve transformed my life into perfection, like I said, it’s just a matter of perspective. Take the Buddhist tenet, “Life is suffering.” If you operate with that thought as the underlying theme to your life, you’re bound to feel good about things some of the time. If the alternative is expecting perfection and continuously being disappointed, I’ll side with Siddhartha. With all the treacle and Pollyanna that populates pop culture these days it could do folks some good to think that some times things aren’t good. Or at least don’t always have to be. I’m a long ways from being able to make sense of a Buddhist philosophy that monks spend entire lifetimes meditating upon, and even further from explaining how it fits into this chapter. I have a tendency to grab onto bits of theories, snippets of songs, lines from movies and abstract them to fit my own world view. I guess what I’m trying to say is, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.
Let me just excerpt the Las Piedras Island Almanac 2003 to give you an idea of what this place is like and why I started this chapter, “The list of ways to dip a toe into the community pool (two pools, actually, in the new Las Piedras Aquatic Center) is endless, of course – and not much different from any other community. Except that the people who move to Las Piedras, for the most part, feel like they’ve arrived at home.” It sounds nice and everything, but something about it gave me the heebie-jeebies and made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I know it’s designed to give me a peaceful easy feeling, but I can’t help remembering it’s cruel to be kind (in the right measure). Maybe I spent too much time hiding on the backstreets thinking this town will rip the bones from your back, that it’s a suicide trap, that we needed to get out while we were young because, well, tramps like us, baby we were born to run. Regardless, I was just thinking to myself that this could be heaven or this could be hell. I’m just hoping that if we go running for the door to find the passage back to the place we were before, we don’t find the nightman telling us to relax, Las Piedras Island is programmed to receive, that we can check out any time we like, but we can never leave.

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