The Good Place (and the Other Place)

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms

“The Good Place” is one of the popular new TV shows. It’s a clever comedy that plays with notions of what Heaven might be like. I’m not that clever. When I try to imagine Heaven, I end up hoping it would be a whole lot like the places I’ve already known and loved. That says nothing about Heaven but maybe a lot about me and my limitations.

But it is a hard concept for me to contemplate. I once heard about a lawyer who died and was whisked up to some fancy gate in the sky. There he is invited in to do his favorite thing on earth, which was golfing. Amazingly, his very first swing results in a hole-in-one. The next hole was the same, and so forth for the whole round. Every shot went in the hole. The lawyer confided to his caddy, “You know, I didn’t expect to get to Heaven. In my career I, uh, took a few ethical shortcuts.” The caddy turns with a devilish grin and asks, “What makes you think you are in Heaven?”

I remember Lily Tomlin’s thoughts on the Good Place. She was asked if we would have sex in Heaven. “Of course we will!” she said. “We just won’t feel anything.”

Mark Twain has a famous quote on the topic. When asked where he’d like to spend eternity, he said, “Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.”

It seems the cartoonist Gary Larson is an expert of Heaven and Hell, for he drew many cartoons on that theme. I’ve found about 30, and there may be more. One cartoon shows a bunch of devils laughs hysterically at notes from a Suggestion Box. In another a devil tells a new arrival, “Your room is right in here, Maestro.” (The room is filled with doltish guys holding banjos.) And in another cartoon a new arrival in Hell has just taken a swig from a coffee cup. “Oh man!” he says, “The coffee’s cold. They thought of everything!”

The more I try to imagine heaven, the weirder it becomes. I have to admit that drifting on a cloud with a harp singing the lord’s praise would get old in a hurry. Any place that has me singing is gonna be more like Hell than Heaven. I’m not the only one to wonder if things might get a little dull in the afterlife. In one of my favorite Far Side cartoons some fellow sits all alone on a cloud thinking, “Wish I’d brought a magazine.”

I’d like to think Heaven comes with a good cable TV package and no irritating commercials. I’m sure Heaven will have really fast internet connections. It would be great if I could eat ice cream all day and not gain weight. In my version of Heaven, in fact, scotch and wine would be health foods. Doctors would frown during annual checkups and ask, “Are you sure you are getting enough beer and pizza?”

And dogs! I want to say that Heaven just would not be Heaven unless it would return me to my dear buddy Brandy, the impudent springer spaniel who shared so much of my life. But right there I’m in trouble again. Before Brandy there was Danny, and a more lovable and loving dog never lived. After Brandy came Spook, the elegant gentleman who never did a single naughty thing in his life. Spook was followed by Katie, who loved me totally and helped me survive a difficult time. I can’t imagine Heaven without any of these dogs, but I can’t quite picture Heaven with all of them milling around my feet.

But while I can’t form a clear picture of Heaven, it is not hard to imagine my personal Hell. For me, Hell would be a windowless room with a telephone, computer and uncomfortable chair. I would be given some crucial task to perform, but to do it I’d have to gain cooperation from my bank, or a large software business, or an insurance company, or Social Security, or . . . you get the idea!

My personal hell would involve struggling to find phone numbers for businesses that don’t want me to call, so they don’t list their numbers. In my version of hell I’d spend hours “on hold” while insipid music plays in my ear. Periodically a voice would come on to say “Your call is very important to us,” which is a lie, a damned lie, actually. And then, after sweating an hour or two on hold I would get to one of those triage tapes that gives me four choices, only none of them will be remotely appropriate for the issue I’m calling about.

When home computers were just becoming popular it was tricky to connect to the internet. (Does anyone remember using a telephone modem? Remember the bizarre sounds they made, like R2D2 vomiting in an echo chamber?) In the early days of home computing, frustrated consumers would have to phone their ISP for help getting online. Before they could talk to a human being a taped voice would ask infuriating questions, like, “Are you sure your computer is plugged in?” Or the taped voice would say it wasn’t necessary to for me to bug a customer service agent with my issue. All I had to do was to log onto their helpful online database!

Now, that would be my version of Hell. And if the managers down there truly “think of everything,” when I walk in Hell they’ll hand me a notice telling me that there was a goof in the Registrar’s Office. I didn’t actually graduate, for I still have to take several more years of German.

What would be your version of Heaven or Hell?

75 thoughts on “The Good Place (and the Other Place)”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    I suspect I am living in the political bad place at this time in history. I am also trying to figure out what that calendar tim sent is for and how to sign up to submit blogs (another form of hell?) Can anyone advise me how this works since my recent return to the trail?

    Saturday I hosted my art group for a potluck and studio session. That is as close to the good place that I can conceive of right now. Figuring out a Google calendar is the opposite.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. the calendar is simply to allow you to commit to a date to have the guest blog done.
        once a month is what i am asking for and if you are ambitious or have something to say (bir says if yo have a long response to someone elses post save it and make a blog out of it) then maybe more than once a month would be good. there are 15 or 20 of us and there are 25 days in a month so we can get by with 15 or 20 bt 30 would be great and we can start backlogging it.

        ljb responded to my idea that we have a calendar to sign up on and thats what we are looking at. we have a calander . does anyone know the person who puts the page together at work or at the church to list the events calendar and the stuff coming up? is ther a way to sign up to bring desert or salad to the pot luck? anything like that will work.

        in heaven there is no misspelling and no need to proof read. the cloud takes care of it and knows what i mean.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Part of the problem (I think) is that Google Calendar allows us to share it with non-google-account people but I really don’t know how it works for the sharees – I don’t know how they access it. The google doc that tim shared with people had the user name and password for signing in to the google calendar directly so that any of us could sign in and add things to the calendar. But who among us wants one more site to log into? Hopefully those of you who have google accounts (gmail), can see the baboon trail calendar when you look at your own calendar so no need to sign into a separate google account, but I have a feeling it’s more complicated for non-google people. Am I right?

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      1. You can submit your blog posts right here on the site. Hover over My Site on the top right of the screen (at least that’s where it is on my screen) and choose Blog Posts – Add. Then copy/paste your words or type away and submit. You still have to email photos, but you don’t have to email the words.

        And I think tim wanted the calendar to help people “sign up” for when you will submit a post. You could look at the calendar and see that nobody is planning to submit a post on a certain week and decide to do one then, for instance. The calendar doesn’t change how you submit the post. And obviously, we’re doing pretty well, at the moment, without people figuring out the calendar, so the calendar is not absolutely necessary for keeping things going.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. thanks ljb
          it is possible to do photos too (i did it once by accident and didnt figure out what i was doing until it was lost in the vapors)
          the posting the blog either by sending to dale or at the pper left hand corner is great. keep up the great flow of useless tripe we all thrive on.
          bare feet, viva la france, uncle thought, and dante revisited is all we need….

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I also thought every story had to go through Dale. When he didn’t publish it, I felt like a sore thumb to all of you. Recently, he emailed everything I wanted to post and discovered that many were stories I’d written before. He kindly suggested that I could have “Part 2”. Geesh. From now on, I’ll ask my brother if I’d written a subject before.

          Little Jail Bird – your instructions are too complex for me to absorb, but thanks for trying!

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        3. I sent a recent one to Dale who wrote back suggested changes which I did and then posted it as a draft…in other words, did some of each this time…hoping he approves the changes.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. After several unsuccessful attempts, I have concluded that I may need certain permissions to post that way. You may have already received permission to do so because you have posted in the past. I don’t have the option ‘Blog Posts – Add’. I ended up creating my own WP blog spot but have no idea how to move my post from there to Trail Baboon. Do you think I should ask Dale for permission? Gee, I hate to bother him.

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        5. Krista – send the post to Dale via email. And while you’re at it, ask him to add you to the list of people who can post directly. That’s all I’ve got. Good luck!

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  2. Funny, Steve. My Christian point of view is not all that different. To my mind the Bible gives very little image of either place. Most images are used for metaphoric purposes purposes, I believe. It is fun to play with the images and find humor.

    Boy do I feel good this morning after that very painful shot in my neck. I’m to watch for things might bother my neck and shoulders it for the next few days and avoid them. Doing this is one of those things, being on the computer I mean.

    Well be checking on IPad during the day but not ducking much.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. I’m more than a doubter. I’ve never believed it. A couple of months ago, a nice young man who’s been a fan of my dancing for years asked me if I believed in God, and I said “no”. He then asked, “Aren’t you afraid of going to hell????” My only response was, “I don’t believe in your God, so why would I believe in Hell?”

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Twilight Zone did quite a few episodes on Heaven and Hell. For me, hell would be repeatedly having my expectations raised and then dashed. A long time ago there was a made-for-TV movie that developed that , theme. I think it starred Loyd Bridges and Cloris Leachman.

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    1. I’ve got a notion about Heaven for you, Renee. Your Heaven surely includes opportunities to enjoy community, like the folks in your congregation. It would need music, too, I think. And a heaven for your husband would need to have an outlet for positive social service.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Back in the ’80s, Diane Keaton made a film called “Heaven”. It’s a combination of found footage and bizarre interviews about people’s ideas of heaven. You can watch it on YouTube, I think. Its very entertaining and very strange.
    As a history buff, I’ve always been attracted to the afterlife envisioned in Philip Jose Farmer’s “Riverworld” series, where you find yourself among and able to interact with everyone who ever lived.
    And of course, there would have to be dogs.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. I haven’t given it a lot of thought, but two things come to mind for my version of heaven. First, no back pain, or any other pain, along with a body that’s 25-35 years old (peak condition). Second, very few people.

    Just thought of another requirement–at least one world-class golf course, with a great wine bar in the 19th hole, and gourmet food service to boot.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 4 people

  6. The most intellectually interesting movie I ever saw was a Japanese thing called After Life. Just fascinating. In it, people who recently died were challenged to identify the ONE happiest moment of their life. Then they were sort of tased and made to forget every moment except that one. I still think back on that movie frequently, and I struggle to identify the one moment I would choose from my life if forced to choose.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Hello, Babooners. I’ve missed you all but must confess to having some issues and not wanting to use this fine group for my complaints.

    I’m not Christian and I don’t think much in terms of heaven and hell. I tend to believe that we create our own heaven or hell right here on earth and that it’s not easy to always do the right thing. I’m sorry but I think hell is staring us all right in the face, right now, and I’m really scared and depressed. I know some of you will understand.

    My former lover passed away a year ago this month. He was a brilliant man in many ways and I miss him. I can’t imagine him in either heaven or hell. I’ve tried but neither seems to fit. I feel the same way. I can’t imagine where I’d go if it was so black and white as all that. Choices in life are very hard and the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Is there really a road to hell?

    Speaking of good intentions, I have tried to use the google calendar but it won’t let me in. It says there is a key that is incorrect. I tend to become frustrated with such things and give up. I think that might be close to Steve’s version of hell, which is so true! I did write a guest blog, such that it is, and wonder if someone could advise me about how to proceed…?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Krista – in a very childish way, I’ve always wondered about if people were the same age when they died, or were they somehow younger and more vital? Also, would dogs and loved ones be the same age as when they died?? It makes no sense to me, but there are likely some people I wouldn’t want to live with forever even though they made it to the pearly gate.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I had to smile, Steve, at the notion in one of your versions of heaven you’re still seeing a doctor on an annual basis. What for? You’re already dead.

    Like Krista, I believe you create your own heaven and hell right here on earth. I can’t reconcile my values with the values of many evangelicals and other religious zealots. And since they presumably will be a major presence in heaven, I have no desire to go there. I’ll be content to have my ashes scattered someone beautiful and have that be the end of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good point, PJ. But looking at it another way, if I’m dead I need a doctor more than ever!

      And my real point is that these are concepts we just can’t wrap our limited heads around. I have nothing new to say about the afterlife except it is a concept totally beyond my ability to understand.

      The more I try to imagine a perfect life, the more I appreciate the one I have. Even after recent events.

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    2. I agree completely! Life, to me, is heaven or hell or something in between is right here on earth – although, am somewhat attracted to the concept of reincarnation. It suggests that what lessons we’ve learned here carry onto the “next life”. If that’s the case, I’ve accomplished quite a few lessons. The major one I haven’t is how to partner in a healthy, robust way. And so, I tell myself, “I’ll get this right the next time around”

      Liked by 3 people

  9. My concept of the afterlife is that everyone gets exactly what they expect to get. Why should everyone’s have to be the same? It’s not as if it’s limited by the laws of physics.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Agreed. But I wonder if one constant, from person to person, might not be this. In Heaven I would want the mind I have now (with all its accumulated observations, regrets, hopes and knowledge). But I’d want it installed in the body I had half a century ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Well, as a Christian, I would say that Hell is being separated from God. That is all. Heaven for me is a situation in which I no longer worry about anything, and there are dogs cats and family and music and peace.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Offended? Certainly not. I never think musings about the afterlife are silly, and definitely not your musings. How refreshing to even consider the question. I like how we are comfortable on our blog to listen to one another snd not get all het up sbout our varying ideas.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. me , i want a joint that has some ability to adjust… i alway said there are places int e world i would love to hang out if there was a way to make a living. for me heaven would include relocating to the montains,, the ocean, the quiet of the forest the wetlands with dcks and geese fluing in, the rolling hills of a far away land where people enjoy the warmth on their faces and the breeze at their back

    my favorite movie harvey had the ability to transport you to wherever tyou wnat to be with whoever for however long and when you got back not one momnet had passed. i used to feel like the guy who said the secret to life was to keep yor stomach full and your bowels empty… i can relate.
    the thing on photoshop where you dial up the color pixel to make it a little brighter and little more contrast a little more of this or that until you have the picture just right? i’d have that for body chemistry. the right amont of food and nutrition the right amount of buzz so drinking wine or doing drugs would be a matter of something not need for the affect but only for the joy of the taste of wine or whiskey or chocolate or whatever the input at hand is. great food, great conversation great people great surroundings great opportunities to do whatever you can dream but no need to leave what you are loving at the moment to get there because you can get there any time and spend as long you like and there is no hurry when you get there. you have forever…maybe paralell universe heavens so you really can do it all at once forever………

    Liked by 1 person

    1. in twin’s “mysterious strnger” a heavelnly angel named (not that one) asks some children if they want him to a make a priest for whom they feel sorry happy forever. they agree. he makes the priest insane

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  12. My heaven would be situated in the back yard in Robbinsdale, which we called the Garden of Eden, and would include a LARGE screen porch. Beaming would be possible if there is still time and space. There would be useful work to do with people you love/respect. People wouldn’t need governing, because everyone would be kind, generous, and reasonable… greed would not exist, or insecurity and lust for power.

    Thanks for this post, Steve – still thinking. Laughed out loud at the Far Side parts…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Heaven for me would have a lot of variety. For instance, I wouldn’t want every day to be 70 and sunny; I would enjoy sun, rain, clouds, snow, and storms (not the devastating kind, just regular storms). A variety of temperatures, but nothing above 80 with low humidity. From my house, I would like a beautiful view, probably something like a view of Lake Superior. A snuggly cat for when it’s cold. And I would like to be responsible for just myself and not have to clean up other people’s messes.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Most of us can agree that conventional notions of the afterlife are pretty silly. My writing this post was not meant to be primarily about them.

    Let’s go back to the golfer who hits a hole in one with every shot. He is actually in hell because the thing he loved, golf, becomes boring and meaningless if every shot is perfect. That means for us to appreciate something we need a context that renders some events happy and some events unfortunate. Highs can’t be highs if all lows are removed. I’m forced to conclude that happiness is basically possible only if we can experience a range of emotions. Which is pretty much like we experience the life we now are living.

    I’m not sure how I could function in a perfect world. If Brandy and I were to be reunited, it might be nice if she respected my commands now and then. It would be nicer if I never issued confusing or contradictory commands. But as soon as I speculate about that–a perfect dog and a perfect owner–I’m forced to conclude that would not be Brandy and that would not be me. We had a glorious 14 years together although she she and I did things our way, which was not the right way very often. We were passionate and sloppy. We did things our way, and I treasure the memory of that.

    Over and over, this kind of thinking brings me back to the life we now enjoy. Pain and pleasure. Surprises. Rough roads and smooth ones. Sunny days and cloudy ones. Not every story has a happy ending. Not every election turns out the way I want it to.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Nice_Place_to_Visit
      “After a month, Rocky (The Bad guy) becomes thoroughly bored by always having his whims satisfied and predictably winning at anything he attempts. He calls up Pip (The Devil) and asks if he can put a challenge where he would actually get caught in a robbery. Pip is able to do that, but Rocky backs off claiming there would be no fun if he knew the outcome. He then tells Pip, “If I gotta stay here another day, I’m gonna go nuts! I don’t belong in Heaven, see? I want to go to the other place.” Pip retorts, “Heaven? Whatever gave you the idea that you were in heaven, Mr. Valentine? This is the other place!!”

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Hi all. Had to think about this one all day because idea of heaven or hell doesn’t really figure into my topography. Hell would be hot all the time with no ceiling fans and lots of repetitive annoying noise. Heaven would have to have a HUGE library with no waiting lists and a big comfy chair for reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ve wondered why, on this site, everyone’s response doesn’t get a “like” because we’re all deserving of one. I must admit that when I don’t get one, I feel a little less of whatever I’ve posted. Five likes show me that a post is really valued.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. If I liked every comment by every person, that says nothing about what I really like. If I don’t hit “Like” that doesn’t mean I dislike a post. I just save the Likes for something that particularly resonates with me. And I don’t usually reply to comments and hit the Like button both. I think of the blog as a long conversation with many people; the people come and go as do I; sometimes I say something and people don’t reply or even seem to notice it, but that’s okay, because other times, I get some responses to what I say.

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  17. Hi Kids–

    I think Heaven can be whatever we need it to be at that moment. Sort of time hopping to what ever place and time we desire. And yeah, there better be dogs.

    Speaking of weather changes a-coming; I spent all afternoon in the tractor. Time to get serious about fieldwork. I just need a couple more hours to have the fall fieldwork done. Haven’t got snowfence up yet or ditches mowed or the crib doors raised. But either there’s time or it will wait. Right?

    Got a shower in the well house this morning when the valve came apart rather than the pipe coming off the valve. Huh. That’s not what I was expecting…

    In Algebra class we’re up to chapter 7 of 9. Just finished factoring and quadratics. Parts of that didn’t really sink in. and I’m OK with that. I’m still a lot smarter about math than I was 4 months ago.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. I have come to suspect that Heaven and Hell will be the same. It will not be a place but an attitude. I will find myself with a lot of people, some I couldn’t stand and some I liked very much. My job will be to come to a place where I find that I am developing a positive relationship with those I couldn’t stand.

    All of this is to say that Heaven or Hell won’t be an end but the beginning of a long long journey. And it will be beyond my limited imagination.

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