Playing A Harp On A Cloud? I’ve Got Bigger Plans


I’ve heard that there are people out there who, when contemplating the afterlife, wonder what they can possibly do for eternity that won’t get boring. “I don’t want to sit on a cloud playing a harp forever,” they complain. “Or even six weeks!”

Well, first of all, they are making two very big assumptions: 1) There is a place up in the sky where the Dear Departed sprout wings and are issued musical instruments, upon which they will be immediately proficient despite having had nary a lesson, and 2) That they will be among these people.

Second of all, I have given this a lot of thought and have come to the conclusion that there are plenty of things to do up there and, if allowed, I’m going to do every single one of them.

For my part, I want to re-stage every moment of history in a “Choose Your Own Adventure” sort of way. I want to see what would’ve happened if Columbus had never discovered America, if nobody brought slaves from Africa or if the moon turned out to be made of cheese after all. Would Native Americans still run casinos? Would Africans never venture out to the South? Would astronauts bring back big scoops of the moon, saying, “Just try it on a cracker! It’s out of this world!”

I also want to re-enact every moment of my personal history, this time with the option of making wiser choices, avoiding all danger and sidestepping every single one of my Most Embarrassing Moments. If I had it to do all over again post-mortem and vicariously, of course, would I see that my life could’ve been total bliss? Or would I just have ended up with a completely different set of problems?

Then I’d like to sit alongside each of my friends, going over every detail of their lives, while they explain to me why they made the choices they did and nodding sagely when I give them thoughtful advice from my enviable position as an armchair quarterback. Then we’d replay their whole life yet again, this time doing it my way.

Celebrities come next. I’d sub myself in at all the career high points of my favorite actors, athletes and rock stars. None of that paying your dues stuff. I’d only interject my apparitional self into the very best of situations — receiving my Oscar, being first across the finish line, performing to a sold-out Madison Square Garden.

When I’ve exhausted all those scenarios (it ought to take a millennia or two), I’d open the gates to Doggy Heaven and let all the mutts onto our side. Same for cats. (“Mr. Gatekeeper, tear down this wall!”) I could easily spend a few thousand years watching people be reunited with their pets. It would be like those military homecoming videos on YouTube except in reverse — this time it would be the people who thought they’ll never see their little loved one again.

And still there’d be enough time to complete all my needlepoint projects, use up all my watercolors, wear out both tires on my bike and, when all was said and done, sit still long enough to learn to play the harp. That is, if I make the cut at all.