Paradise is whatever we want it to be.
How, after all, could it be otherwise? How, for instance, could Coco Chanel and Primo Levi inhabit the same Paradise? Each one’s paradise would be in the other’s hell.
And so, we all go to the Paradise we most desire. If you want to be young and beautiful forever, that’s no problem. Or you can age gracefully, reach maturity, and start all over again, at 18.
If you want to fall in love forever, it can happen. Or if you’d rather fall in love with someone new every night, that’s possible, too.
Paradise is a golden city full of Michelin three-star restaurants and designer boutiques…
Paradise is a vast field of green, dotted with grazing sheep, where a gentle wind is the only sound… Or…
Paradise is your childhood home; Paradise is a mountain range that tumbles down to a beach; Paradise is a village where the citizens sing Broadway show tunes as they go happily about their daily business.
You can make less traditional choices, too. Paradise is your own private corporation whose stock is always up; Paradise is you with your ragged robe and your begging bowl, wandering the earth.
The best part of Paradise, however, is this. Paradise understands that our souls tend to grow restless, as weeks turn into years and years turn into decades.
We get tired of eating and shopping. We grow bored with the beaches and the fields, with the corporations that can only prosper. The cheerful, singing villagers start getting on our nerves.
We may find ourselves asking ourselves, “Why did I want this Paradise? What was I thinking?” Here’s the good news. We can change our minds. We can alter our Paradises whenever, and however, we choose.
We can leave the golden city and move to the sheep-dotted field. Or we can command a city to appear in the middle of the field, get rid of the sheep. We can destroy our factories, and start over again. Of course, each new Paradise pales with familiarity. But we can always create yet another one.
As time passes, we find that our greatest happiness lies in our anticipation of the next Paradise.
And the next, and the next, and the next. • original text page 142