Friday Night Story

The Cost of Being Me

The taste of blood’s familiar to me- and perhaps that’s a commentary on the life I’ve led- but it’s the amount that’s troubling. A moment ago, it was a warm tickle at the back of my throat, then a trickle, coating like cough syrup, only not as thick. Now it’s getting in the way of breathing, but I can’t bring myself to spit it up, because, it’s blood, damnit, and I’m pretty sure I need it.

My body falls back to the rocks, and in my head I note that it should have hurt, but didn’t; it’s becoming harder to feel in general, a sign that should be worrying, but I’m finding it harder to care. I’m not quite at peace, but an analytical calm washes over me like a mist on a warm day, and I soak in it, breath it in.

Perhaps it’s a bit late, but I start to consider my options. I’m not perfect, but there seem to be two schools of thought on that (at least two extremes, anyway). The Buddhists say that every life you live towards perfection, and that your reincarnations show how far you’ve moved towards or away from the ideal. In essence, it’s evolution through a philosophical mirror.

What bugs me most about the Buddhist idea is the transience of consciousness. If you were a lousy person, you’ll be reincarnated as a butterfly, but you’re not an angsty, guilt-ridden butterfly who feels bad for living lousily, you’re just a butterfly; there’s absolutely no motivation to make right on your next attempt, and hell, no awareness that it is your next attempt. You could, potentially, live out a billion existences without ever being aware that you weren’t making progress.

Now, the Mormon idea is different- some might say less pleasant- and certainly it’s less complicated. Their perfection, or Heaven, as they’d have it, is divided into three separate kingdoms. There’s the celestial and terrestrial, but they’re reserved for participants only; when it came to accepting Jesus as a savior, well, I never met the guy, but plenty enough of his followers have been douchebags for me to question his perfection.

The celestial and terrestrial kingdoms are very egalitarian- the glory granted to one is granted to everybody. The thing about the telestial kingdom is you’re only accorded glory based on your works- it’s the only Heaven where individuality’s still a factor. As I understand it, there will be a few scumbags who get in, too, but hey, only a few scumbags is still nicer than any neighborhood I’ve ever lived in.

Still, there’s a catch; when isn’t there? The telestials don’t get in right away. You spend your first thousand years in purgatory- and I don’t mean the Utah correctional facility. As I understand it, purgatory’s all about torture, and I don’t mean of the vanilla Abu Ghraib/Guantanamo Bay variety, either.

On balance, I think I’ve lived fairly well. And if the cost of being me is a thousand years of mutilation, humiliation and horror before I get to go back to being me- well, it’s better than having to be somebody else.

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