For there is nothing about man that is not strange to an immortal. He looks at nothing as we look at it, his sense of proportion is quite different from ours, and his sense of values is so widely divergent from ours, that with all our large intellectual powers it is not likely that even the most gifted among us would ever be quite able to understand it.
His heaven is like himself: strange, interesting, astonishing, grotesque. I give you my word, it has not a single feature in it that he actually values. It consists -- utterly and entirely -- of diversions which he cares next to nothing about, here in the earth, yet is quite sure he will like them in heaven. Isn't it curious? Isn't it interesting? You must not think I am exaggerating, for it is not so. I will give you details.
Most men do not sing, most men cannot sing, most men will not stay when others are singing if it be continued more than two hours. Note that.
Only about two men in a hundred can play upon a musical instrument, and not four in a hundred have any wish to learn how. Set that down.
In man's heaven everybody sings! The man who did not sing on earth sings there; the man who could not sing on earth is able to do it there. The universal singing is not casual, not occasional, not relieved by intervals of quiet; it goes on, all day long, and every day, during a stretch of twelve hours. And everybody stays; whereas in the earth the place would be empty in two hours. The singing is of hymns alone. Nay, it is of one hymn alone. The words are always the same, in number they are only about a dozen, there is no rhyme, there is no poetry: "Hosannah, hosannah, hosannah, Lord God of Sabaoth, 'rah! 'rah! 'rah! siss! -- boom! ... a-a-ah!"
Meantime, every person is playing on a harp -- those millions and millions! -- whereas not more than twenty in the thousand of them could play an instrument in the earth, or ever wanted to.Interesting, no?
After reading this, I began to consider my 'personal' heaven. When I say heaven, I don't mean the place I believe I will go after I die. I mean the place of introspection that I turn to when the world seems too chaotic to bear; the only perfect place that my mortal mind could possibly comprehend. My place of fantasized happiness, and pure idealism.
This is what it's like:
I am lying on the ground-- my cheek against the cool, dark green, summer-grown grass. I can glance up and see the pure blue skies and the cumulo-nimbus clouds floating by, paying my world no attention. The silence is pure, and full. My favorite novel is just within arms length, and is worn, yellowed and tattered from the many times I've flipped the pages. I can sit up from my personal sanction and see my family lounging about twenty yards away with a picnic blanket and a food basket. They are all laughing and smiling-- no one is unhappy. In front of me, there is an expanse of grass, then sand, then ocean. The sun is in a perpetually-setting mode, where there are sunsets and sunrises every hour. There are unique strangers that walk the sand every once and a while, and they often stop to talk about the sunset, the feeling of the sand beneath their toes, God, or simply happiness. There are kites being flown in the sky by unknown fliers, although the wind is barely noticeable. It's not hot, and not cold. The laughter of my loved ones rings through the air, and there is a guitar strumming in the distance. There is a fresh supply of coconut milk, and ice water-- and always chocolate chip cookies.
All I ever want to do is smile.
That is my heaven.
That is my sanctuary.
And sorry Mark Twain, but I'm not getting sick of THAT anytime soon.