Do you ever wonder what they eat in heaven? I love the Albert Brooks movie Defending Your Life. It is set in Judgement City, a place somewhere between life, and wherever you are headed next. The two main characters Julia and Daniel meet there, and though their days are spent literally defending the choices they made during their respective lives, they spend the evenings getting to know each other and among other things, eating massive amount of food. On their first evening together they go to a restaurant and the waiter brings each of them a gigantic plate of food. Julia eats hers with relish and abandon while poor Daniel, already dead, is worrying about the cholesterol in his plate of shrimp.
Unlimited food, and you never get full or fat, or sick, everything tastes wonderful, like best of what it can be, and you are free to just enjoy it. Sounds like heaven to me! Yet here are two people one of whom is able to eat with pure pleasure, and the other worrying about who is looking, what they are thinking and is filled with shame. He can’t see that it is this shame and embarrassment, this painful self-consciousness that is what people are looking at, not his partner’s playful enjoyment of her food. He is so worried about being seen, and his discomfort so palpable that he draws the attention of everyone in the restaurant.
So many of us struggle with uncomfortable self-consciousness, especially when it come to enjoying ourselves. We hold back, we stay quiet, we stay home. There is a world filled with wonder, music, art, food, sex, books the ocean and on and on. And I ask you as much as I ask myself, why not fill your life with as much wonder as possible?
Conversely, I know a joke I’ve probably told to everyone I know, about an old Jewish man who after a righteous and commendable life, finds himself in heaven, and night after night, sits alone and eats a meal of canned tuna on a lettuce leaf. As he looks down into hell he sees people eating and drinking and engaging in all variety of revelry. Finally he goes to speak to God, and asks why tuna is all they get to eat in heaven, while in hell they feast, “To tell you the truth,” God replies “it doesn’t pay to cook for just the two of us.” If you’re not at least chuckling, all I can say is it’s the delivery, because this joke almost always gets me a BIG LAUGH!
So, in my heaven the weather never gets above 80°F, and I can lounge around on a big fluffy cloud, and all my clothes are soft and comfortable (maybe Eileen Fisher) and I will be happy to cook for that old Jewish guy, and God, too. I hope if there is a heaven (and I have my doubts) and I make it there (a whole other story) I won’t have to walk around in a white robe because if there is food there (and one can only hope) I’ll have stains all over it. If I have to make a stop at Judgement City, I hope I can leave my self-conscious, Daniel self behind and make the most my time there, but maybe I can even exorcise that part of me while I am still here in wonder-land!