How to prepare for Purgatory
I am agnostic, which in truth means that I’m not crazy about organized religion or the belief that if you pray, god will answer your prayers. I found this out when, at age six, I came home from Sunday School and thought I would give it a try.
Being reasonably sensible, I thought I would pray to God for something relatively easy and nothing that would be too difficult or over-reaching. A Big Sister tinned chocolate pudding. Mum would buy them, boil them for ages and then open it open to reveal a dark brown, steaming cake with sweet chocolate sauce which she’d serve with ice-cream. Perfection, affordable and surely not too hard for God to say ‘yes’ to.
The next morning, I checked my windowsill, having decided that it was the spot God would drop the tin if he had heard my prayers. Nothing.
As I matured and developed my own — not always correct or sane — reasoning skills, the idea of organised religion repelled me. However, my fear of being wrong and then finding out too late when flung by fire into heaving cauldrons of lava in hell for all of eternity for being a non-believer means that I prefer to say ‘agnostic’ instead of ‘atheist.’ Hell, I don’t even understand how electricity works or how post-it notes stay sticky time after time, so why would I presume to decide that a power larger than me has not already invented it all and figured things out?
Hell was not mentioned too often in my church; we tended to focus on sermons about being a better person, helping others and summed up by a bible reading which was always from the New Testament. Having tried to read through the Old Testament when I was 14, I understood that a lot of those sorts of lessons were a fair bit darker and more perverted than singing about the foolish man who built his house upon the sand.
Being from Protestant stock, Purgatory was not discussed at all. My limited reading of it is that it’s a kind of ‘half-way’ house between heaven and hell. Purgatory seems to be related to the word ‘purge’ as in to get rid of an undesirable or unwanted thing or behaviour. Apparently, there are some who believe that you might be given a few chances in Purgatory to make amends for the naughty ways you conducted your life, but who was it that judged if you were finally good enough to ‘pass’ or were still just too damn horrible and had to drop directly to hell without passing go? Didn’t God and Satan have enough on their plates to worry about whether you’d been sufficiently good or bad enough to enter their dominions for the everlasting afterlife?
The question also arises if Purgatory the same as it is here on earth. If it is the same, you’ll be able to re-do some of your actions so that the amends you might be able to make are directly comparable to the ones you didn’t perform to well on earth, right? But if Purgatory was not like life on earth and had challenges our human brains can not fathom, how do you get out of it?
Blame it on the new sleeping tablets, but I’m wondering if Purgatory might just be a slightly more annoying form of earth and that God and Satan could not care less about anyone who ends up there. A bit like the muddy campers at Glastonbury or people who enjoy watching car racing.
If this theory is correct, those left to remain in Purgatory must surely endure things that, if they happened on earth would be enough to frustrate, annoy and anger us, but, for them, are only to be accepted forever.
Some examples spring to mind:
Every bus ride has you sitting next to someone who sniffs constantly, just letting the snot almost drip out before wetly sniffing it back up again in a never-ending sliding snot cycle.
Wet paint on all park benches.
Cold McDonalds fries.
You arrive at your dream historic destination to find the entire building covered in scaffolding and plastic sheets.
This did indeed happen to us in the Summer of 2012 and my reaction to the sight, after an awful train trip on a hot day surrounded by elbowing tourists was most definitely NOT one that would feature well on my Purgatory score card.
Your phone records the first ten seconds of comments you make AFTER ending a call and immediately sends that recording to the person.
Every tea cup you own has brown stain lines from previous cups but the dishwasher can never remove them.
Your leather office chair ‘farts’ every time you move in it.
The only time you’re able to dance in public is when a wasp chases you at the bus stop.
Your clothes reek of cigarette smoke after a night out even though smoking indoors is banned
The day starts at 5am with government-mandated braless Zumba workouts.
Not one New Year’s resolution lasts beyond the 2nd of January.
You must be seen and recorded reading every single word of all ‘Terms and Conditions’ before clicking ‘I accept.’
No matter if they’re your size, one side of your underpants will immediately slide into your butt crack the moment you leave the house.
A pillow that never has a cool side when you flip it over at 3am
Radio stations who play only 1980s rock but still have the stupidity to say, ‘Hey groovy listeners, who of you remembers ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ by Bon Jovi?’
No dogs want to be petted by you.
Every dog wants to taste you.
A supermarket conveyor belt who scans and then publicly provides comments on your trolley items. “Aspirin, vodka and four family-sized blocks of chocolate. Shouldn’t you go back for tampons?”
Having to ignore the moistly glinting, dangly booger oh so delicately swinging in and out of your boss’s nose while you await his decision on your request for a pay rise.
Instagram influencers as the ruling political party.
South African World Cup vuvuzelas are the official alarms for every watch, clock, iPhone, and police vehicle.
Your deodorant never works.
Shell suits or corduroy trousers are the only styles of clothing allowed so you can never sneak up on anyone.
On long haul flights, any surreptitious fart you try to do straight into the uncomfortable economy seat sets off the ‘call for cabin crew’ light above your head, which changes its label to ‘Selfish Furtive Farter’ for the rest of your nearby passengers to see and disapprove of.
Every person in front of you pays for their fuel, electric bill or groceries with coins that they only start counting after the check out person has announced the total.
Tables all have one wonky leg that will not respond to any efforts to level it.
Having to listen to at least six people per day recount the weird dreams they had last night.
Always needing to urgently use the photocopier when it has run out of toner and some jerk has left it with a paper jam.
Carpet-lined toilet seat covers and surrounding floor mats in public conveniences and road stops.
The only televised sports available are golf and darts.
The mosquito buzzing around your room at 2am instantly disappears when you switch the light on but returns the second you turn it off.
Modern interpretative dance performances replace movie theatres.
All dirty cups and plates are placed next to the dishwasher but not in the dishwasher.
Toilet paper always unrolls facing and touching the wall.
Enthusiastic tap dancers live in the apartment above you.
Every time you need to do a crap at work, you’re in the middle stall surrounded by two colleagues who 1) know it’s you in there and 2) feeling like having a chat.
Fluorescent light that it too blindingly bright to cook, read or watch TV by but flickers intermittently.
Looking forward to eating last night’s roast chicken only to find that it’s covered by a weird brown jelly.
People who say: Unprecedented, Off-ramping, Ramping-up, At the end of the day, Interface, Let’s revisit this at the next meeting, Literally, Actually, Whatever.
Every Pap smear you undertake is attentively watched by a class of 25 new medical students
The dentist sneezes while he’s drilling out your cavity.
Your email access is completely restricted until you have read and replied to every single item of spam.
IKEA no longer include instructions.
Cocoa bean plants become extinct.
Laminated toilet paper.
Ribbed condoms but not for her pleasure.
Unflavoured soy milk as the only beverage of choice during University Orientation week.
These are but a few that spring to mind. Feel free to add your own.