Sunday, August 05, 2007

Imagine, no imagination, Imagine

Imagine there’s a Heaven…

Well if John Lennon could get away with imagining there was no Heaven, perhaps I’ll get away with imagining there is a Heaven. So, friends, let’s pretend such a place as Heaven exists…

Some months back I read two books by Mitch Albom which I reviewed in these pages. They were by no means brilliant in my opinion, but were good, maybe six or seven out of ten or thereabouts. However, I allude to Albom because one of these books was called The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Well, I should like to list here with a few reasons all the people I should like to meet in Heaven if such a place existed.

I should like to meet

1. My "bigger" brother Thomas who died some weeks after birth in 1955 or so. I should love to get to know the person he would have grown up to be.

2. My grandfather Thomas on my father’s side because my dad was so devoted to him. He died at 40 or so from T.B.

3. My maternal grandmother who ran away with my grandfather when she was 17 years old. She was called Phoebe St Ledger, daughter of a Protestant gentleman farmer, and she later changed her name to Mary Brophy, this latter being my grandfather’s surname. He was a poor Catholic ploughman on the farm. I would love to hear her tell her story.

4. The little boy, whose name I forget, who sat in my class and who was killed in a traffic accident on the North Circular Road in 1968. I wrote a story for him once. I wonder who and what he would have become by now had he lived.

5. Teresa Lynch, an 18 year old student killed in a car accident in December 1979. I remember a few days previously sitting with my arm around Teresa in the lobby of Mater Dei Institute of Education discussing some philosophical inanity or other – Teresa was brilliant at philosophy and was one of the best students in her year. I should love to meet her again to tell her how much I enjoyed listening to her ideas, and how I so much regret never having asked her out.

6. From the world of celebrity I would like to meet Marlyn Monroe who was both beautiful in body and in soul. I always thought that her death was poignantly lonely. In my dreams I used to imagine myself being there to save her from overdosing on her sleeping tablets.

7. From the world of literature I should love to meet William Shakespeare. I’d thank him for the great lines that keep running through my head. Not alone a great poet and dramatist, but a psychologist of considerable insight. He must have listened to so many stories told by others. To be such a great writer one has to be a tremendous listener.

8. Eugene O’Neill, the great Irish-American dramatist for his brilliant play Long Day’s Journey into Night which is so profoundly moving and deeply disturbing. It touches that deep lonely spot in the human psyche. I’d like to say well done and thanks for making us more aware of our frailties.

9. S.T. Coleridge, Romantic poet and philosopher for his wonderful passion for life and his compassion for other human beings; for his total honesty; for his frailty (opium addict); for his wonderful understanding of philosophy and literary criticism; for being such a great entertainer; for his gloriously self-deprecating sense of humour; for his awkwardness in learning to ride a horse; for his calling himself Simon Tomkyn Cumberback, obviously a reference to his bad horsemanship when he ran away from the army. Mostly for his brilliant The Rime of The Ancient Mariner, Frost at Midnight, Kubla Khan and the learned and sui generis Biographia Literaria.

10. William Blake for the power and beauty of his visions both literary and pictorial; for his sweet devotion to his wife; for sitting naked with his wife in his garden (did this happen more than once? I forget.); for his love of nature; for his singing hymns on his deathbed; for his courage to plough such an individual and lonely furrow no matter what anyone else thought of him or his lifestyle. Also for his sheer humanity and for his passion for justice for all, especially chimney sweeps, and for his hatred of snobbery and hypocrisy and indeed for his contempt for organized religion.

11. James Joyce for his Dublin accent; for his complete lack of snobbery and hypocrisy; for his courage to say what came into his mind; for being light years ahead of where practically everyone was politically and culturally and spiritually during his early years; for his sweet tenor voice, second to Count John MacCormack at a Feis Ceoil in Dublin; for his great and wonderful book Ulysses which I listen to on my iPod - for the fun in the language that runs riot in my ears; for the fact that he fell in love with a poor woman, a chambermaid in an hotel, one Nora Barnacle, and remained loyal to her all his life as she did to him; for his intelligence and brilliance and courage and for his loyalty to his native city even if the country did let him down.

12. Johnny Cash for his great song-writing abilities and for his unique singing voice; for his live concerts from various prisons in the USA – Folsom Prison and San Quentin; for his sincerity, integrity and honesty – what we call congruence in counselling theory and practice; for his humility; for his sense of humour and for all the joy he’s given me listening over the years.

13. John Moriarty for his sheer depth of insight into humanity; his insight into the deeper part of the psyche; his plumbing those mysterious depths and for scaling those heights of mysticism; for his sheer brilliance at communicating with others; for his refusal to follow the beaten track; for his uncompromising search for his personal truth; for his non dependence upon the world of the ego; for his power of words; for his books; for his beautiful voice; for all his inspiration over the past ten or so years since I first heard and read his works.

14. Richard P Feynman, the Nobel Prize winner for physics; for his sheer brilliance of mind; for his ability to think along unorthodox lines; for his sheer humility and nobility – he refused honorary doctorates too many times to be counted because he felt they were not earned and trivialized the real ones; for his sheer humanity and love of others – his dedication to his first wife until she died; his simple approach to living; his lack of snobbery and sophistication; for his dining with students in the Grease rather than in the Athenaeum restaurant on the Caltech Campus; for his answering letters from everyone, not just scientists; for his brilliant ability to communicate; for his witty sense of humour which could be so self-deprecating; for his insights into psychology (especially the psychology of creativity) which he said he despised; for being the first person to allow me love not hate physics – the inheritance of having a very bad physics teacher at school; for his sheer enthusiasm for his subject as well as for life.

I’ll leave it there, because this exercise could go on and on. It was just an idea which struck me while out walking today.

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