On "Shafty"

the terrible thing about hell
is that when you're there you can't even tell
as you move through this life you love so
you could be there and not even know

but you say so what I'm doing just fine
the irony is that it's all in your mind
and that's why hell is so vicious and cruel
but you'll just go on an oblivious fool

(Phish/Marshall. "Shafty." Lyrics. The Story of the Ghost. 1998.)

When you really think about it, I think it's pretty obvious that life is striving, with small parts of boredom thrown in. This is obvious, I think, because everything we do is towards some goal, or end. Yet, once the goal is met, we find another goal to work towards.

Yet, they say that Heaven is not like this; that instead, we have everything we need and want. This suggests that we must either be bored, continually striving towards new goals, which are immediately attained, and/or in some other state that we can't even know, being a part of the world we live in (which is, 'through-and-through will,' striving).

To some extent, the fact that we can never attain a goal that does not open us up to seeking, or finding without seeking, another, suggests that we may perhaps be in a sort of hell, not unlike what Phish suggests in "Shafty."

Yet, by the same token, we may already be in paradise. True, we have before us an unlimited number of goals to strive towards, from birth to death; every moment of our life is striving, or the briefest of moments between those periods (save for those very few who have attained a life without striving).

Along these lines I can recall a story I read many years ago (it may have been in Dangerous Visions …). In that story the main character commits suicide, thinking that there's a better life (or something to that effect). Instead, after death, he finds that this was in fact a paradise, or rather, a vacation from his time elsewhere, which was in fact a kind of hell, in that it demanded so much of him.

Billy Joel once sang that he'd 'rather laugh with the sinners, than cry with the saints.'

Too we must remember the Twilight Zone episode in which a man can never lose at pool. Yet, while that would make most happy for a while, the inability to lose would itself drive one crazy. No competition means the victory is flat.

In my opinion, I would almost rather hope that Leibniz is correct, that this is the 'best of all possible worlds,' and further, that we can live (in any sense of the world) in just this one.