Wondering where that place called heaven might be? When it first dominated human thinking, scribes would raise an arm and point. 'Up there,' they'd chant.
|Pathway to Heaven ... To see most of Paradise, though, a rather stiff climb is necessary. The view's worth it. Photo from the New York Times article with many thanks.|
I mean, what did they expect to find in the night sky, apart from a planet or two and a handful of stars?
Knowledgeable us, we know about the real Up There.
We even have witnesses who have walked on the moon and looked about there, and ventured far out, eyes wide, into the night sky.
Make no mistake. It’s not up there. It’s here, and I’ve been there. Almost. I certainly saw it. I didn’t quite make it, but not for want of trying.
Look on the bright side
With its opposite, the Hell that has plagued my senior years, I’d let the wonderful memory of that paradisical Paradise slip, though it is a surprise to me now that the voyaging memory didn’t dominate during those ghastly unjust years in UK prisons.
|Iron walls do not a Paradise make ... Finding Heaven is one challenge. Landing among the angels is quite another.|
Look on the bright side, we learned as kids, and yet I wasn’t recalling the view of Paradise as the unconscionable State stole my property, my savings, my investments, my beautiful ship’s sextant, and my wonderful stripped out 38-ft yacht, eM.
As the utter absence of justice was directed my way by a corrupt prosecution, my view of Paradise from not so long ago really ought to have dominated my thinking.
Humans! We’re so much better at dwelling on the negatives.
Face to face with Paradise
However, when I clicked open a magazine from the other side of the world this morning, I came face to face with Paradise whose coast I virtually nudged in my eagerness to get among the angels and all.
|Far from anywhere ... Hiding between South America and South Africa, locating Paradise is quite a navigational challenge. However, it's worth it, even if you can't land.|
I was sailing from Cape Horn towards South Africa and, thanks to that sadly missed sextant, found tiny Tristan da Cunha.
It was as I came close that I recognised the Paradise I’d heard so much about since, well, since I began to understand words.
It certainly is as beautiful as the popular view of Heaven goes, and yet – unlike religion’s ultimate location – this real version lacks the zillions and zillions wandering about in white, with bold wings to match, for ever and ever.
Tristan has just 250 inhabitants, and 38 square miles for them to enjoy, albeit that much of it is just about straight up and down.
It has a supermarket (in a tin shed), and probably the world’s most beautiful women, all dressed, when occasionally they are dressed, significantly in white.
What more could a singlehanded sailor desire? Well, most of all, just then, to get onto the island. However, talk about buttresses to foil an approaching army, it was protected with very steep cliffs ... and it possessed no port. Naturally, that was to bar heathens and Satan.
However, I was more of a Sinbad, and I sailed this way and about and onto the other tack, but getting onto the island remained impossible in the prevailing conditions.
I confess to pondering on the notion of scuttling my brave vessel, hoping that rescue might work. However, the yacht represented Paradise in another form - well, almost - so that notion had to be scuppered.
I gave up
Just as never happens in biblical tales, I gave up and sailed away, and watched very sadly the island sinking slowly into the South Atlantic.
Google Maps has some wonderful and thoroughly recommended shots of Paradise, too.
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