This Is Why.

There are moments that pass all too quickly
There are moments that linger too long
There are times we want heroes rewarded
And villains reproved when they’re wrong

And so we invented a heaven
And so we invented a hell
So we could be happy forever
And punish our enemies well

I wish we could talk to our loved ones,
Our family and friends who have died
But wishes are… wishes, not magic
That’s not how the world works—we’ve tried.

Instead, we invented a heaven
And instead, we invented a hell
So we could be happy forever
And punish our enemies well

Sure, maybe it’s all wishful thinking
And none of it, really, is real
But life, as it is, isn’t perfect
So the things we don’t like, we appeal

And yes, we invented a heaven
And yes, we invented a hell
So we could be happy forever
And punish our enemies well

The Good Guy who should have been noticed
The Bad Guy who clean got away
Some folks deserve blame, and some credit,
In an afterlife, if not today.

And so we invented a heaven
And so we invented a hell
So some would be happy forever
And some would be punished, as well

Of course, the bad news is, it’s fiction
No justice comes after we’re dead
We can’t trust a god to bring justice
Let’s work with the real world, instead

We’d only invented a heaven
We’d only invented a hell
We’d love to be happy forever
And punish our enemies well

And yes, we invented a heaven
And yes, we invented a hell
The world doesn’t bend to our wishes
But, honestly, that’s just as well.

So… so today, I helped my niece with something (she’s currently at Cuttlefish University, completely independently of me being here). And I wanted to tell her dad about it, because it was so outrageously… unlikely. I wanted to say “look what your daughter just asked me, and what I did for her, and how much fun this is, and how cool this is.” (I really wish I could tell you about it. Sorry, personal.)

He’d have loved it.

Long time readers, though, know… he’s dead. There is not a damned thing I can do to share her request with him. And it sucks. I love that I can help her, be there for her… but I’d have been there for her if he were still alive, and goddammit, wouldn’t that be so much better?

And that is why we, we human beings, we sad, sentimental, creatures, invented a place where we could say “hey, guess what your daughter did today; you’d be so proud!”, and laugh (or cry, or drink, or dance, or read, or sing, or … I dunno, play frisbee) with the loved ones who would still be with us if praying wishing actually did a damned thing.

My niece is a wonderful woman. I sooooooo wish I could share that with her dad.

And that is why–not the apologetics, not the “sophisticated theology”, not any of that crap–is why these ideas (whether religious, “spiritual”, or any other type of magical thinking) are just so damned resistant to logic and evidence.

And goddammit, her dad would agree, and I wish I could hear him say it.



  1. says

    Your brother’s genes are replicated:
    His daughter carries him beyond death’s door
    Likewise his memes are duplicated
    In every mind that knew him, evermore.

    Our technological advances
    Build A.I.circuitry to hold our thought,
    Sentient machines–what are the chances
    A person’s essence can someday be caught?

    As cryogenics strives to clone
    Receptacles to store us physically,
    Our software will be “saved” and grown
    In files of quasi-immortality.

    Or would such permanence be hell
    Without the pleasures of sex as well?

  2. Pliny the in Between says

    Thank You Cuttlefish, wherever you are. This verse is going into my personal collection of letters that I have been compiling for my children so that they may know me better.

  3. rikitiki says

    To Know Again

    Unexpectedly, at odd moments,
    The tides rise up,
    Flooding me with memories, dialogues,
    Shared times both good and bad—
    never to be again.
    I miss you and it hurts.
    Though that past remains with me,
    Now it has the tarnish of loss
    As well as the glow of remembrance.
    I’ve already stopped, breath in my throat,
    So many times—thinking to call you,
    Ask how you are, hear your voice,
    Just let you know I’m okay,
    Or maybe not so okay,
    But still here, still alive.
    Then I realize once more you’re not there,
    And this internal flood rises up,
    Overwhelming the dam of my reserve
    To wash me in sorrow.
    Yet happiness mingles with the hurt
    Because I know that my tears
    Are the best monument,
    And in my heart you’ll always be home.

    © Christopher G. Doyle

    (written after my mom died)

  4. katybe says

    Loved the poem, found the prose made my eyes mist up. At 35, is it too late to say I want to write like you when I grow up?

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