🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
What There is Like! ⛅
‘Modern Policing’ 🚨
Xylophone Time! 🎵
When you decide to talk about a time in which you truly believe you more-or-less died and saw what comes after this life, you have to be comfortable with the fact that people might think you’re nuts. Hell, talking about it on the occasions that I do, I sometimes wonder if I truly am nuts. I’ll leave that possibility open.
I don’t think anyone should go willy-nilly talking about such experiences with just anyone, any more than I think it’s a good thing for people to go on and on and on about their own religious or spiritual beliefs. Frankly, depending on your perspective, evangelism can easily be rephrased as cultural insensitivity, and from any perspective it has led to a helluva lot of deaths and some spectacularly awful cultural annihilation.
Yet from time to time, people seem truly interested in hearing about my experience and what I believe to be Truth. While I certainly leave open the possibility that I am a billion percent wrong, I share with them a thing I wrote about the experience, and if they’re still interested, I’ll go into some more depth.
Recently, I had a chance to share with someone what being where I call There was like. From my experience, the imagery surrounding what’s more conventionally called heaven isn’t what’s waiting for us. I’m not sure where I got the imagery I associate with heaven. I think it’s a combination of Loony Toons and Christianity.
There’s no escalator. No pearly gates. No clouds. No St. Peter. No waiting embodied relatives.
Truthfully, there was very, very little that was visual. The only thing I remember “seeing” was the vast, expansive universe and some rectangles through which what I took to be souls were entering. And I knew one of those rectangles was for me and those like me, whatever that might mean.
Since I’ve returned from There, I’ve taken it that the existence of other rectangles and that I knew there was one for me compared to other rectangles means there are multiple belief systems that result in some sort of really freaking amazing afterlife. Again, as with all of this stuff, I leave open the possibility that I’m wrong and that all those religions that suggest they have the exclusive code to the lock on the doors of heaven are right when they condemn me to an eternal hell. It’s not the most loving thing in the world to come from a fellow human, but I accept their opinion as a possibility.
So how do I describe what I call There? It’s not anything visual. It’s not just falling at the feet of God and singing classic hymns forever and ever and ever. No version of heaven would have my singing voice.
What I experienced was a feeling, a feeling for which there are no words in any language. Time and again, I have tried to come close to that feeling, and though I consider myself something of a wordsmith and certainly a descriptive person, I don’t know that I’ve ever really even been on the target, let alone in the bullseye.
Here’s the closest thing I’ve got:
Whether we know it or not, all of us are uptight about the responsibilities we have in this world. Some of those things are really easy to see and are directly about us as individuals. Bills, parental responsibilities, work, marriage, health concerns or even the simple fact that we haven’t slept well in the past few days. If you were to list everything for which you were responsible, you might have a lengthy list. If you were to see that list from the eyes of what, for convenience’s sake, we’ll call God, it’d be a lot longer. A lot longer.
Then there are those things that we’d only know make us uptight were they to disappear. For example, you might not realize the war in Ukraine has you a bit on edge about the possibility of nuclear annihilation. You might not think you fear terrorism. But if there were suddenly a complete and total world peace? Maybe you’d realize that, at some sort of energetic level, that stuff was part of the human condition that worried you to a degree. I know one thing I didn’t realize weighs on me until I was There and it was gone was my continued love, care, concern and responsibilities for Boy The Elder, who, at 20, is on the road to being tremendously successful and doesn’t appear to require much from dear old dad. This isn’t to say that being There meant I didn’t love my son. It just wasn’t my responsibility anymore.
So I describe There as the feeling of a complete absence of any concerns over any responsibilities you might have. There is this total sense of being done. It’s like training for a marathon, and suddenly, you’ve run your race and there are absolutely no other races to run again ever. You’ll never have to pound the pavement again. You’ll never have to even lace up your sneakers. You can just be. It is pure, unabashed contentment. You want for nothing. You worry about nothing. You’re literally all good.
When I’ve told this to people, the Type A’s say something like “But won’t that be boring?” I have some Type A in me, too, so I get it. The thought of not having anything to do can be paralyzing and spark fear. But There, there’s no fear. The “nothing” that there is to do is a glorious, amazing, complete nothingness. It’s not being bored. It’s not being still and, thus, alone with your thoughts. There are no thoughts to be afraid of. It is simply and wonderfully a complete and total contentment I have never experienced outside of my few trips to what I call There.
There’s a downside to all this. Well, multiple downsides, actually.
The first is that, once you’ve felt that feeling, once you’ve been There, it’s really jarring to come back to Here. There are times still, despite the fact that I know now why I’m back Here, the “Here-ness” of Here makes me long with a deep, soul-crushing ache for There. There is so much better than Here in so many deeply meaningful ways. Being Here? Being Here is tough. Here is ugly. Really ugly. And though I understand our mission as to bring some There to Here, well, everything about Here is like the knockoff version of Star Wars figures that came out in the wake of the original trilogy. No, I don’t want to play with Jack Starcrasher or Lord Viper, thank you very much. Give me Luke Freaking Skywalker and Darth Freaking Vader.
The second negative is that, once you share your experience with someone, that someone just might think you’re completely nuts. I accept that. I think it’s possible to think anyone with any sort of faith in anything unseen is nuts. And as I said, I leave open the possibility for the fact that I am, indeed, nuts, myself. That said, I think faith can be a good thing.
I would ask this: Which is more nuts?
- The belief that a God-Man came out of a virgin’s vagina after being created inside her womb in some unexplained way, and that that being was absolutely blameless in anything ever and that, in the mere belief that he was who he said he was and through his death in a particular manner I now have access to Heaven and thus I memorialize him by eating his flesh and drinking his blood, which may or may not turn into his actual flesh and blood upon entering my mouth, depending on my particular slant on belief in him? OR
- That there’s a complete form of contentment available to all and that I’m not sure if being a dick or murderer or Red Sox fan is something that disqualifies you and that the key to all of this Here is to love infinitely?
Please don’t think I’m picking on Christians. I’m not. It’s an example. There’s an example available for any other exclusionary faith. I hold nothing against any of those faiths for having those beliefs as long as the people who practice them are showing and acting with love.
So there it is: What is There like? It’s a feeling. It’s an amazing, indescribable feeling of being done. Of having finished everything on your Here To-Do List and of having been deemed to be a Straight A Student in all of it.
Completion. Contentment. Unabashed joy that you’re done … and that you’ve done well.
That’s what There is like.
Switching gears as hard as a 16-year-old with a stick shift, let’s talk about the Idaho murders, shall we? I read an article last night that talked about how “modern policing” led to suspect Bryan Hamburgler. The article was extremely laudatory of law enforcement for using all sorts of technology to hone in on who they believe to be the murderers of the four students now known with one long name.
If Hamburgler did it, I’m glad they caught him. Of course I am. Duh.
What I’m not glad about is this so-called “modern policing.” Dude. It’s the ability track any human being’s movements anywhere at any time. That’s creepy.
The only way to prevent this from happening in any marginal way — for example, not carrying your cell phone — is seen as a sign of guilt. Even if you leave your phone at home, there’s still a vast network of spytech out there tracking you. Video devices. Audio devices. Your car tattles on you routinely. For Christ’s sake … a surveillance camera on a house 50 feet away from the victims’ house picked up a mere thud and whimper, allegedly from one of those who was killed!
This is not cool! We have become 1984.
Yes, I understand this sounds paranoid. I love the argument of “Well, if you’re not doing anything wrong, you shouldn’t care.” But I do care. I care because we have no reason to trust law enforcement and government to not be assholes. They have shown time and time again that they are, in fact, assholes. Yet real journalists write articles celebrating modern policing without asking the question of who’s able to access this data for other reasons and what would happen if, say, it was hacked and released for all to see?
I haven’t killed anyone (that you know of yet, hahahahaha), but I still don’t think where I was at 4:21 p.m. on Friday is any of your goddamn business.
On the dashboard of my car is a tiny square, just a little bit bigger than a postage stamp, that is worse than my sister ever was. If I drive too fast, it tattles. If I brake too hard, it tattles. If I accelerate too quickly — though I struggle to think how this would…Keep reading
A thought I had while driving to work: I remember how boss it was as an elementary schooler to, after walking to music class in a silent single-file line (of course), seeing that the xylophones had been put out and were just waiting for us to bang on. There was little better in elementary school life than to discover the xylophone unit had begun.
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- It’s good to stay alive to see what humans will next insert up their butts.
- If I live to be 88, I’ll try to insert something even bigger into my own. That’s a promise.
- Wifey Poo and I are going to an improv show tonight, which hopefully won’t involve any butt-insertion of large explosives. But ya never know with improv, do ya?
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hello Darkness, My Old Friend 👀COVID Costs 🦠Jackass Jones Verdict👩⚖️ I’ve spent much of this week so far in forced darkness. After I wrote on Monday morning, my right eye started to get blurry. Then it got real blurry. Then it became utterly useless. In this, I have reprised my role…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Awkward Shopping 🛏️Disingenuous Holiday 🗓️Help the Homeless 😔 If there’s a more awkward retail excursion than mattress shopping, I have yet to find it in my 48 years. Wifey Poo and I went to a high school gym to do exactly that on Sunday afternoon. The bed we’ve been sleeping in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Playoff Disappointment ⚾Oh, Britney 📲Friendship Failure 😔 In the span of just more than 24 hours, I went from the excited expectation of being in Busch Stadium to watch the hometown St. Louis Cardinals eliminate the Philadelphia Phillies and advance to the next round of the playoffs to watching those Phillies…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Baseball Gear-Grinders ⚾Sunrise Woes 🌄Heavy Pumpkins 🎃 There are a few baseball-related indignities in my home that, as the saying goes, grind my gears. The first is that there is a state championship trophy on the mantel above the fireplace in our Humble Country Home with a gold-plated baseball player, bat…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Wound Treatment 🧂Phillies Bring Doom ⚾Meetings Suck 👎🏽 Apparently, I’ll take medical advice from waitresses and allow myself to receive medical treatment from busboys. This, I learned last night. I have a tendency to get hurt in really interesting ways. When I tell you that I once got a concussion…Keep reading
Welcome to Issue No. 8 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to email@example.com. No. 5: I held an epic car concert If you were anywhere in the vicinity of my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Football Picking God 🏈Fish Story 🐟Free Floating ☁️ A few months before Boy The Elder was born, I had about $100 set aside to buy Wifey Poo a gift that I intended to give her after she ushered our child into the world. It was the least I could do for,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Route Home 🏎️Confirmed Weirdness 🤪Here’s Your Sign 🤦 I took a new route home from the western part of Missourah yesterday after doing the whole open-house thing for work in St. Joseph. Rather than shoot down to I-70 and traverse the state on that familiar road, I went across Hwy.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Woo-Woo vs. The Beast 🛻Dart Throwers 🎯My Job 📋 I am not used to driving a tank. My normal vehicle is Woo-Woo, AKA The Shitty Little Car, AKA a Nissan Versa. It’s practical. It gets great gas mileage. I hate it. Woo-Woo normally accelerates as quickly as a child asked to…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Unwitting Guinea Pigs 🐹False Bragging 🦹♂️Put Me In, Coach 🚀 My regular readers (hey, you three!) know that I have a hatred for social media’s influence on society with an intensity rivaled only by the heat of a thousand suns. The latest bit of “Are you fucking kidding me?” comes from…Keep reading
Welcome to Issue No. 7 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. No. 5: I reached out to a friend I have not been shy about sharing that I’ve…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩More Stupid Human Stuff 📱KC Trip ⚾Miserable Missourah 😠 Quick: Take a look around you. If you’re in a room with five other people, one of them thinks you’re financially struggling if you don’t have the latest iPhone. That’s according to a new survey following the release of the iPhone 14.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Loser Species 👶Email Win 📧Dad Pride 👨👦👦 I’m pretty sure I’m not normal. Normal people respond to that statement with, “Oh, John, nobody’s normal,” which is just a sign for us non-normies that the person we’re talking to is normal. Yesterday, I was waiting for Wifey Poo to pick me up…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Thoughts 🧠Marriage 💍Drunk Idiots 🧉 There’s this scene in the 2004 movie Garden State in which Sam (Natalie Portman) looks at Andrew (Zach Braff) and notices … … And yeah, that resonated with me then and resonates with me now. Ever since then, being “in it” has become a thing…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sadness 😥Beautiful Skies ⛅Two Terms For 2022 ✌️ Back in our early days at Pound Ridge Elementary School, Sarah was the fastest girl runner in the class, which bought her some serious playground cred. There were only a few of us boys who could hang with Sarah in the 50-meter dash…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ear Flushing👂Grunge God🎶Tech Guy📺 If you have to have a doctor tell you a body part or yours is small, I suppose one of the least offensive would be the ear canal. That’s what a doctor told me this morning, after I finally broke down and actually went to said doctor’s…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Toys in the Hall🪅Idiot Governors🗳️Flopping FedEx✈️ Last night in my hotel in Springfield, Missourah, I set out a glass of milk and a plate of cookies before going to bed. It’s not that I don’t know how to read a calendar or have any particular belief in a fat man in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Which One?🗺️Leave Introverts Alone🤫Oxford Commas🤪 I’m on the road for work this week, in Springfield. Ahhh, but Springfield what? There currently are 35 populated places in the United States named Springfield, spread out over 25 states, including five in Wisconsin. In addition, there are 35 Springfield Townships, and Ohio owns 11…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Surrounded 😷Wood Splitter 🌲Morons 🤪 I’ve had COVID. Twice. The first time fucked up my life for a year. I’m still not back to the me I was before it came into my home, and I’m pretty sure that now, nearly two years later, that’s not going to change. The second…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sunday audible🤒Fantasy Failure 🏈Anal Chess♟️ Sunday was supposed to be a romantic day spent in a canoe with Wifey Poo, the two of us paddling leisurely down the Meramec River. Mother Nature was not in the mood to play wingman and decided to pick the one day in the midst of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Finish Line Scene 🏃♂️Baseball’s Better ⚾M-I-Z! Z-O-UC-H! 🏈 I have never understood the modern-day purpose of running for the sake of running. Sure, I understand it’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise and it’s a convenient way to get from Point A to Point B, yet the desire to strap on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Book Guy 📚Queen Stuff 👑Bernard Shaw 📺 I’ve decided I want to own a copy of every Stephen King book ever written. That’s about 75 books at the moment. I have a built-in bookcase in my mancave/home office. I don’t think it would hold all 75 in hardcover, but perhaps it…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beginnings 📚School Start 🚌Real Baseball ⚾ I was thinking this morning on my drive to work how we rarely know when the significant times in our lives begin. So frequently, the most important things that happen to us start with nothing noteworthy. Of course, there are exceptions, the “love-at-first-sight” moments or…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fallin’ Thoughts 🤕Shinedown 🎸Sleepy 😴 The brain can be surprisingly efficient when the meatsack it’s attached to is in the middle of falling off a ladder while holding a revved-up chainsaw. This, I learned yesterday morning while attempting to saw a limb off a tree that was getting way too close…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Overview📅Fantasy Football🏈Elite Bonding🤼♂️ Days that start with chainsaws and lighter fluid and end with four hours of really good professional wrestling are bound to be added to the “good” column for review when the scales are weighed at the end of a life. Yesterday was such a day for me. In…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Funeral 😢Glimmers ☁️Meat 🥩 If you’re lucky, you’ve had a second mother. Whether your first mother was or is an amazing person who nurtured you and raised you among calm consistency or if she was lacking in certain maternal fundamentals, having a second mother is a blessing. Today, we were there…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩We’re Dumber 👎OnlyFans Thrives 🍑Shinedown 🎵 Official statistics put the COVID death toll in the United States at 1.04 million, with another 713 deaths yesterday. More than 4,000 people are in the ICU right now suffering from what the former Moron-in-Chief called that one person coming from China and a situation…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dethroned Queen 👑Gravy Wrestling 🤼♂️Dog Talk 🐕 Don’t fuck with the Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival board. That’s a message Abigail Brocwell is learning the hard way. Brocwell was expected to be inaugurated as the queen of the festival in the northern Ohio town earlier this month, but she was stripped of the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩3, Unassisted ⚾A Sad Day 📅Tracking Your Vagina 🌸 The last time Boy The Younger was on a baseball field, the “coach” of his team removed him from a game in the middle of an inning because I had privately messaged him to not attempt to steal home with my kid…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hydrogen Issue 🚀Karting 🏎️Lake Life 😌 I was all excited to watch the launch of the moon-bound Artemis 1 rocket this morning, only to see the clock stopped at T-minus 40 minutes because of a “hydrogen issue.” Don’t know about you, but I’m thinking having an issue with hydrogen is a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Karen in Control ⌚Karting 🏎️What podcast? 🎧 In the winter of 1993, I went to a comedy club with a friend and, in the spur of the moment, decided to be one of those who came forward to join the fun and be hypnotized. This was decidedly out of character for…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little League Flap ⚾Grandpa Joe 🤦Psychedelics 🍄 Boys are interesting creatures who aren’t easily understood. One of the many, many weird things boys do is mercilessly make fun of their best friends. My closest friends in middle school and early in high school were affectionately nicknamed Goon, Tree Frog, Butt and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Death Cometh Sooner 💀Twitter Security 🔓Game Over 🌑 Average life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2020 by almost two years in 2020, the biggest decline since World War II. Every state and the District of Columbia saw a drop. Guess it was a little bit more than that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Worm brain 🧠Chicken Big Mac 🐔Eye Twitch 👁️ Caenorhabditis elegans is probably too elegant of a name for something that is really just a disgusting little worm about a millimeter long and most easily found in rotting fruit. It is more commonly known as a lab roundworm and was the first…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Agliata Homeschool Academy 🚌Hypnosis 😳Sunburn 🌞🔥 When you tell people you homeschool your children, you typically receive one of three responses: An enthusiastic: “Oh, that’s so cool!”An I’d-rather-be-dipped-in-acid: “Oh wow! I could never do that!” A you’re-one-of-those-weirdos: “Oh… really… homeschooling, huh?” The percentage for each has changed in the wake…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Indycar 🏎️Best Friends 😎Baseball Irony ⚾ There are certain people who look at car racing as an endless series of left turns. These people are idiots on whom nuance is lost. Boy The Elder and I crossed the border yesterday late-morning to head just past the fine city of East St.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Swine Inflation 🐖Swamp Thing 🎥Phone Calls 📱 Life was different when I went to college in Iowa after growing up in suburban New York City. This isn’t to suggest I was a city kid. I wasn’t. The city was a place we went to a few times a year, and where…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Triple-Threat 🖥️🖥️🖥️Tasmanian Tiger 🐅Video Work 📹 Humans were not meant to stare at laptop screens. At least, humans of a certain age were not meant to stare at laptop screens. I say this after successfully lobbying for a second monitor at work, which effectively turned my laptop screen into a third…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Look Before Brewing ☕Hoop Construction 🏀Nuclear War ☢️ If you’d like an indication of how much of a Monday yesterday was for me, know that I ended up with an orange in my coffee. Well, to be fair, it wasn’t a full-blown orange. It was something called a Cutie, which is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Date 🪦Nature Walk🌳Bulldog Bath 🐶 If you have a date walking around a cemetery, you’re either weird or goth, and neither Wifey Poo nor I were wearing black today, which I guess tells you all you need to know about us. Old cemeteries are something of a fascination for us,…Keep reading