When I was maybe sixteen years old, I had the kind of dream you never forget.
I dreamed I went to Heaven, which was the kind of concept that unnerved me when I was awake. I was well aware of what infinity meant, and even the idea of an unending eternal paradise was too much for me to bear.
I mean, how would you be able to stand it?
In this Heaven, the one in my dream, you didn't have to.
Instead, when you arrived—when I arrived—you were told that you could do anything you wanted. Anything you'd loved doing on Earth, anything you'd never gotten the chance to do on Earth, anything that would be theoretically impossible on Earth (like flying, with your arms and not a plane).
Because I was sixteen years old, give or take, I decided I wanted to finally have sex.
With my high school boyfriend, who was also apparently also dead in this scenario.
So that happened. Then the dream got interesting.
After you'd done everything you wanted to do, you were allowed to depart your physical body and let your soul ascend into the collection of souls that surrounded Heaven. You would no longer experience time, or your own thoughts, or anything beyond a sense of peace and contentment.
Which I did, in this dream. I remember being conscious (in my unconsciousness) of feeling both nothing and feeling completely happy.
Then I dreamed that God called all the souls back into Heaven, so we could gather around Heaven's IMAX and watch as a new Messiah was born on Earth. God explained that Earth was in need of some guidance, and so a guide had been sent.
And we watched, as this infant grew up into a young man, and somewhere in all of this I woke up and thought well, if Heaven turns out to be like that, I don't think I'll mind going there.
And then I saw the last two episodes of The Good Place.
I'm going to assume you've already seen those episodes or been spoiled for them, because they are nearly identical to the afterlife I dreamed as a teenager (minus the overt Christian influences and the idea that God was sending numerous Messiahs to Earth at regular intervals).
In the Good Place (as presented on The Good Place), you can do anything and everything you want, for as long as you want—and then, when you're ready, you can leave. Let your soul depart your body, and be at peace forever.
I am still kind of taken aback at the idea that the Heaven I imagined for myself as a sixteenish-year-old in the late 1990s was the same as the best version of the afterlife that all the philosophers and writers working on The Good Place could come up with.
Not that I believe that's actually going to happen, after we die.
But if it did, it would be a beautiful and wonderful thing. ❤️