Several years ago I was madly in love with a remarkable man. Dashing fellow, handsome, in the espionage business. Bright as a penny, linguist extraordinaire, and unparalleled lover. Our relationship brought to mind, finally, long after it’s ending, the devastating description of Lord Byron’s famously scattered affections toward one of his amours. His biographer wrote: “She was in love with him to the point of near insanity. He liked her a lot.”
Oh dear. Which then, as now, set me to thinking about the actual content of Paradise. It’s one thing to hold the amorphous dream, pink and goldy glowing up there in unfettered space. But how does it actually play out.
My Paradise, for instance, includes the fellow I found so irresistible on Earth (though waking up next to Lord Byron on satin sheets, in the company of chirping birds, lush flora, and breakfast on its way wouldn’t be bad either). But wait a moment, what about HIS Paradise.
So there we all are, now picture this with your own cast, floating about our heavenly glades with the ones we adore. I look over at the reunited come-to-life figure of my love, and damn but he’s looking off over the next hill, kind of fidgety as we walk, and the small sweet garland of wildflowers he has knit for me is wilting in his hand. He’s forgotten that I’m there. HIS Paradise has not got me in it!
For Paradise to really be fair, I mean really!, how does this all get worked out? Are there two or three or ten of us in duplicates, fulfilling our own splendid illusions variously with ten or more of the illusioned-about doing the same. Am I (in Paradise) going to be the long lost love after all of the annoying fellow down that Brooklyn block who I never wanted to be in the same room with. Whose Paradise takes precedent in Paradise, the promised reward where we will have it deliciously all.
To my credit I have not died with his name on my parched lips, nor failed to realize that between the two of us, one of us was regrettably less in love than the other. But, despite my advancing years, that moment may yet come with a new love and there is still time for such a mistake to be made.
So, as to the business of Paradise on Earth, upon examination, I suspect that we give the here and now our best shot and find the usual range of variety in the outcome. And the delight of far flung illusion, the strength of wishful thinking, remains a bit of meringue on top of the daily pie, a sprinkling of salt on the steak, and a dash of Worstershire in with the Portobellos and onion and garlic. Long live the impulse to make the living of a life as grand as can be had, on our own terms, as much as can be done.