The Afterlife

Maybe the afterlife is like a giant library…

Maybe the afterlife is a giant library but instead of taking out books we take out lives.

After we die, we wake up in the library’s lobby. We get scared at first because the place is so big and the ceilings are so high and the last thing we remember is dying. A nice librarian greets us and explains the situation. She says that all of the leather bound books on the shelves are biographies of every person who will ever exist. All we have to do is decide which life we want next.

Kind servers come around and offer iced coffee and scones. We take some to be polite. We sip and take a deep breath and kindly ask if we can go back to our old life. Sure, it had its ups and downs, but we were pleased with it. The librarian offers a warm smile and says something like, of course dear.

The librarians are kind and clever. All they want to do is help us find exactly the person we want to be next. If we choose to have a different life, they put all of their effort into learning about the life we just lived and gather the biographies of who we might like to be next.

They ask if we want more money in our next life. They ask if we want long curly hair. They ask if we want to be political activists or farmers or school teachers. They take all of our worries into consideration and return with a stack of lives for us to consider.

We get overwhelmed.

They hold our hand and offer us more scones while we think about what we want. But the librarians go unappreciated, as librarians often do.

We flip through the biographies in the big chairs scattered though the aisles. Sunlight pours in through the aging windows. We see there is a long waiting list for certain lives like Scarlett Johansson or JFK. We kill time by borrowing other lives until it’s finally our turn for the one we think we really want.

We can jump ahead on the waiting list by behaving well in our current life and by being kind and warm and supportive to those we love, but still supportive to those we don’t. But everyone forgets that we are simply borrowing these lives. Sometimes we abuse them.

Often we make the mistake of equating what we really want with fame or money or status. The smart librarians holding our hands try to tell us that we should take out a life where the family is close, or a life where we find our soul mate at a young age so that have a lot of time with him/her.

We won’t be rich with money in these lives, but we’ll smile a lot the librarian assures us.

We ignore the librarian because we were a little miserable and a little poor in the life we just lived. We want the next one to be better. We search for a life that offers us fame, fortune, and attention. We ignore lives that offer us enough money to afford being creative, enough attention that we can still function anonymously and enough love, friendship and laughter that we are never lonely.

We take out a life similar to perhaps Kim Kardashian’s where we have the fortune and attention we wanted, but it is a life that is mocked and critiqued. We don’t have the laughter, the support, the love we need. We are lonely deep inside.

We wonder where we went wrong. We wonder why we chose this life when we had all of those options. We wish to be back in the library sipping on coffee. We wish for the kind librarian to be holding our hand.

When that life eventually expires and we return to the library we missed, we decide to become librarians. We try to convince others to value what is important. But the librarians go unappreciated as librarians often do.