Suppose in the afterlife, you meet everyone whose art you’ve enjoyed, and they’re as grateful to you as you were for them. Imagine Davie Bowie tracking you down and just really being jumping-up-and-down excited about the time you sang “Young Americans” while it was playing on an eight track tape, and you sang loud enough for the neighbors to hear, but no one cared because you were so into it.
Imagine Bowie telling you about how that track was made, and who sang backup, and he was really thrilled about the whole thing, and he remembers, yes, he shares the memory of you sitting in a bar, listening to Ziggy Stardust while talking to a woman you’d wind up in love with, like he was right there all the time.
Please. This sounds ridiculous to you and you believe half the stuff modern religion tell you? Come on, this isn’t half as far out there and at some level you know it. And this is a lot cooler.
Then you see some young woman running towards you and Mary Shelley arrives, out of breath, thrilled to death that you finished her book after putting it down for nearly a year, and in any other universe there would be an awkward silence, but you’re loved and revered by this woman, and she understands. Would you have let the bride live, she asks, because that’s a question a lot of people ask, and she wondered herself at times.
There’s Captain Kangaroo talking to the Professor, and three of you have a lot to talk about, and time to talk about it, too. Television was cool back then, relaxed and spontaneous, and a lot more fun.
There are others, of course, but they tell you he’s looking for you, and has been. He’s been waiting because you’re one of his favorites, and they tell you they’ll catch up with you about that concert, or about that song, or about that movie, and there are a couple of young people from the college play you went to see three nights in a row because it was breathing and incredible, but he’s been looking for you since you died.
You expect him to be old, and gray, but he’s not, and you aren’t either anymore, and you know who he is, and of course, everyone knows you, because here in the afterlife, you’re as famous to your favorite artists as they were when you lived. You hug like old friends, and he’s crying now, because people like you made him what he was, and he can hardly speak. You have some many questions to ask, how did you start that damn thing? Did you know it would be that long? My Dog, how did you keep up with some many characters? And, oh really, you have your notes and charts and everything?
Tolkien leads you through the early years of writing “The Lord Of The Rings” all the changes, all the doubts, all the fears, all the dead ends and editing. It’s worse than you ever thought, better than you ever dreamed, and the whole book is laid out before you, as you always wanted to see it, written in longhand, in perfect handwriting. Others stand at the door, nodding, with patience, for they know of all the works of art, this was the one that most changed your life.
The Hobbit, and the Lord Of The Rings. Two books that rocked my world as a teen. Nothing else has ever impacted me like that, as far as art goes.
JRR Tolkien in the afterlife would find me. Who is looking for you?
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit.
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