I took a sick day today. And, yes, I actually was sick. I slept for over ten hours and then have sat on the couch the rest of the day, playing games on my phone and reading. I just finished Woke up in a Strange Place, by Eric Arvin. It was a gay fantasy novel. Think gay Pilgrim’s Progress or Gulliver’s Travels. All about what happens after death.
It was beautiful. Beautiful and sad. Beautiful and sad and lovingly full of hope.
One of my favorite parts was about Hell. Of course it was… In this version of the afterlife, there is no Heaven or Hell. It is all our own creating, mostly. However, in this section, there were scores and scores of people who were in Hell, in the fiery pit, burning eternally. The main character, Joe, asks how this could be since there is no Hell. For these people, the believed it so much they couldn’t let go of their belief in Hell. If they chose, they could have walked away anytime. This was the response Joe received:
“Well, human beings have always done one thing very well, and that is create their own hells and bask in their own misery. They complain about what they create for themselves; they relish the pain. What they don’t do so well most of the time is find a way out of it.
Arvin, Eric (2011). Woke Up in a Strange Place (Kindle Locations 2004-2006). Dreamspinner Press. Kindle Edition.
Those lines hit me as such truth. We all do that, and I am the King. Whether convincing ourselves we will never be happy again. Whether we believe we are damned due to being gay. Whether, whatever…. So many of us live, and/or have lived within our own Hells for most of our lives.
Another quote I loved was decribing what the gay main character experienced in regard to acceptance of family and other gay men. I’ve often tried to understand this concept myself, but was never able to put it into words. I think this nailed it for me:
It wasn’t the same kind of acceptance he had felt with Grandpa Joe. This was tribal, not kindred.
Arvin, Eric (2011). Woke Up in a Strange Place (Kindle Location 3459). Dreamspinner Press. Kindle Edition.
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