This year of the plague


How delightful it would be to slip into bed every night and soon drift off to sleep, having only pleasant dreams and remaining in slumber until morning, rather than lying awake for an hour or two hours or more, and then — after finally conking out — being awakened far too soon, at least once, by the call of nature and having to traipse to the bathroom, with remnants of a nightmare clinging to me.

How delightful it would be to awaken each morning feeling refreshed and cheerful and eager to start the day, rather than weighed down by an oppressive sense of amorphous dread, fearing the moment when I must open my eyes and drag myself out of bed.

How delightful it would be to awaken to a spotless, orderly apartment, where everything is where it should be, and no unnecessary stuff lies like an eyesore in every direction.

How delightful it would be to have the branches of a tall tree right outside my bedroom window, a tree full of leaves and twittering birds, and even like the tree outside E.B. White’s window in Maine — a raccoon mother who has found the perfect hollow in which to deliver and rear her young.

How delightful it would be to know exactly how much money I will need to live on and have available for charity until my death, so that if I knew now how much I’d ever need, I could give that extra sum to my son now, or in the maximum allowable increments without taxation.

How delightful it would be to have an indoor garden that has enough nectar to sustain butterflies — and, perhaps, artificial flowers with artificial nectar, like the butterfly houses in zoos, which would serve as an ever-present and endlessly changing feast for my eyes.

How delightful it would be to be able to create exactly what I had in mind to create — that with every attempt, each essay or story would be a succession of perfect sentences and perfect paragraphs that perfectly express a theme or perfectly tell a story, and each drawing or painting would come into being as a perfect representation of what I had imagined.

How delightful it would be to have everything needed for filing my tax returns in a single place, ready for the accountant, rather than wondering not only if I’ll find everything, but whether everything is still somewhere to be found.

How delightful it would be to have a gorgeous singing voice and a capacious memory for lyrics. Or, in an even better fantasy I’ve had, to be able to produce the sounds of instruments solely with my vocal cords in some magical way, so that I could sound like a flute or a clarinet or a string quartet or even a small orchestra.

How delightful it would be to become an expert in many areas of knowledge, which would make the world far richer and more fascinating and wonderful to me than it is now.

How delightful it would be to finally take myself firmly in hand and clear away forever the physical and mental and emotional garbage of a lifetime. How delightful it would be to go to my online sources of news — as I feel driven to do repeatedly every day — and not be bombarded by chronicles of evil and greed and cruelty, sickness and death, suffering and hunger and pain, armed and unarmed conflicts, environmental dangers and disasters, threats and ultimatums, injustices, negligence, malpractice, and real and metaphorical plagues of many kinds.

How delightful it would be if the loving, kind God that Jews of faith praise every day truly existed and would truly be loving and kind, so that there would no longer be evil in the world, or greed or cruelty.

No sickness or suffering. No hunger or pain. No armed or unarmed conflicts. No environmental disasters. No threats and ultimatums. No injustices. No negligence. No malpractice. No real or metaphorical plagues.

And if such a loving and kind God were to exist, how delightful it would be if people never grew very old, but lived forever, and at a certain age were transported to another life-sustaining planet — just as wonderful as Earth — so that Earth would not get impossibly overcrowded.

Surely, with a billion trillion stars in the visible universe, there would be more than enough such planets for humans for a billion years to come.

How delightful it would be to go to bed each night knowing that I had accomplished what I had set out to accomplish that day. That I had helped someone that day. That I had made someone happier that day. That my conscience was clear, and that sleep would soon come, and that I’d sleep soundly until morning, dreaming only pleasant dreams, and wake up feeling refreshed and optimistic.

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