23 May 2011

Heaven on Earth

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:11 pm by undercovermillionaire

There is a theory that the adult human mind is capable of maintaining perfect happiness for a time span of only five short minutes, before one of those niggling worries that wakes us up at 2AM intercedes and destroys our bliss. We may walk through the day in relative contentment, but we will not be in that pure, 100% joyful state we all chase after, for more than five minutes at a time.

Some of us are more fortunate than others, and are able to string together five-minute sets of bliss in rapid-fire succession, with only brief pauses in between to allow reality to sneak in. Others may spend weeks being beaten down by their circumstances, only to discover their perfect five minutes in the dreams that finally come at night and allow them to escape.

We spend our entire lives in pursuit of these five minutes. Once we’ve found them we remember them forever, and in our memories they are drenched with sunshine – a soft-focus lens snapshot of one brief, perfect moment that we will never stop chasing as long as we live.

We cling to our five minutes by refusing to sell the house we grew up in, by saving that pair of jeans we haven’t been able to squeeze into in fourteen years, and by turning a blind eye to evidence that the person we married so long ago has changed into someone we no longer recognize.

Once upon a time, there was a fairytale cottage where we spent hours baking cookies with our mom, while our dad painstakingly superglued all of our broken toys back together again. In a magical, faraway land, we spent the summer exercising and eating right, and we were able to lose those last ten pounds. Our perfect prince finally did come for us, but in the end he was just like all the other princes in the land, and not so special after all.

So there was no happily ever after for us; only the happily ever now that had been ours for just a little while.

This past weekend, according to some, was to be the End of the World. God was going to snatch away His chosen ones just in time to spare them from the fires of hell and the total destruction of the world – or perhaps a less literal interpretation of the Bible, but something horrific all the same. Those not so fortunate as to be saved in the Rapture were to be plunged into eternal darkness, where they would never escape their misery. The lucky few who were to be saved would be granted instant access to Heaven, where they would bask eternally in God’s light – a never ending succession of uninterrupted five-minute cycles filled with everything they could possibly wish for.

Pure happiness, without the annoying interruption of imperfections.

Is Hell truly an eternity of torment, or is it just waking up from your five minutes to the reality that there is still something missing? Perhaps Hell is never being able to attain that one goal, that one person, that one revelation, that will help you reach your own Nirvana.

How many of us think that if we only had enough money, we would be able to buy our way to our personal Heaven on Earth?

To the rest of the world, the very richest among us must spend their lives perpetually, deliriously happy. Isn’t that how millionaires are portrayed, against a spinning backdrop of sandy Tahitian beaches and creamy Swiss villas, with a pinch of American Dream thrown in for the sake of patriotism? With the right amount of money in our bank, we would certainly never worry about the cost of health care, or whether we would be able to afford to keep our parents in comfort when they began to decline. We would never again lose sleep over the rising cost of a college education for our children, and we would barely lift an eyebrow when we signed the check that would keep our grandfather’s home from going into foreclosure.

There would be nothing in our lives that we could not fix by throwing money at it, with a smile on our face and a song in our heart.

And throw money we do; we buy and buy and buy, spend and spend and spend, surrounding ourselves with glitter and luxury and high-tech and new. We’re consumed by the frenzied hunt for new things. Bigger, better, brighter things that will finally make us forget that we are still empty inside, because we just want our brother to come home from Afghanistan, or we just want our spouse to look at us the way they used to, or we just want our grandmother back.

The emptier we feel, the more we buy, and the more we buy, the harder we chase, after those five perfect minutes that are still just out of reach.

We keep spending until we are almost able to make ourselves forget that we would give it all back, burn it all to ashes in a big bonfire in front of our house, if we could just have one more day with the person we loved so much.

Five million dollars in the bank is an unimaginable sum of money to 99.99% of the world. It is a life-changing sum that can raise an entire village out of poverty, granting educations to a hundred little girls who would otherwise never have learned to read. Five million dollars can create a lifetime of miracles. But while five million dollars can keep our mother in comfort, it will not cure her of the Alzheimers that has stolen her from us. It will not regrow a limb for the soldier who lost his leg to an IED, and it will not justify to a five year old girl why her father thinks working late is more important than being home in time to kiss her goodnight.

Five million dollars can buy peace of mind, but it does not guarantee we will remain untouched.

Heaven has nothing to do with the beauty of our homes, or the glamour of our personal style, or the number of carats that make our jewelry boxes sparkle. Heaven is being surrounded by the people who make our lives complete, and Paradise is knowing that they are safe and happy.

And so we continue on with our imperfect lives, haunted by five-minute fragments of time.



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