I’ve been wondering: if I could do anything — have any role I choose in our great world — what would it be? I started small: I’d be a writer who could afford a restaurant and walking filled life in Manhattan. Or maybe an educational reformer with the resources to start an influential school: someplace that reflected my ideals of independent learning and spiritual exploration. Or some kind of inspired social trailblazer: I’d figure out a way to support myself by encouraging people on the street to share their mystical notions or their deepest secrets, then get everyone I’ve touched together for intimate, healing discussion and support.
Then I thought: if I’m giving myself free rein, I should think bigger — be bigger, at least in my imagination. I asked myself to envision with the breadth of infinity. It dawned on me that I could be God, but I quickly realized that I wasn’t remotely up to that challenge. I can’t even find my way around my home city — and, far worse, I tend to hold grudges against some of the current God’s creations. I need to be at least somewhat realistic, so “God” is out.
But I am so disappointed with our current world: there must be a way to express my dismay appropriately as I ponder my ideal role. So I came up with…. Chief Complainer And Dreamer. I get to suggest key situations that need to change, and the improvements I envision. Then, beings much smarter and more fundamentally good-hearted than I, including God if you’re actually out there in some form that might hear me, can take things from there and make things happen.
So here goes: here are the things I want changed, reworked, re-envisioned, and rebuilt. If you’d like to add to the list, feel free: this is a group effort. My job title does not denote superiority; it simply reflects that this was my idea, so I’ll receive a paycheck commensurate with my station. (I know, I know, not very spiritual, but I so want good pay for the work I most want to do.) As you’ll see, once my suggestions find a foothold in reality, none of this will matter, since we’ll all have abundant resources just for existing….
1) No more death… and resurrection for those who have died. We will each retain a youthful, healthy body and brain forever, with no decline in ability or perception as time goes on.
If I’m dreaming up an ideal world, this has got to come first. I know very well that some people accept and even embrace death. A friend once commented, in his blunt way, that “death gives life meaning.” And yes, I suppose it does: a meaning driven by chilling underlying fear that time will run out, and that bodily weakness and suffering are likely to come first. If someone really, really wants to die, there will always be a way. But death should be optional. With no age-related decline, we can keep having adventures forever: going to new places, meeting new people, experiencing new tastes, sights, sounds, smells, and textures. With no death, we can truly live: fearlessly, joyfully, with a zest that is not undermined by nagging dread, or shot through with mourning.
Some look towards death as a portal into a new, more glorious, kinder realm than our current one. But my ideal world will incorporate the highest level of wondrousness into our current existence. Those who choose can take body-free mystical journeys: the tools will be universally available and easy to use. Refreshed and invigorated, they can return to their original embodied state, ready to enjoy touch, taste, sight, and smell. The taste of a fluffy piece of quiche, combined with the feel of the sand against your toes and the warm water lapping against them… we will not have to outgrow these earthly pleasures to enjoy a disembodied spiritual realm.
2) No calories.
Honestly, what kind of planner would come up with something like calories? I don’t want to disrespect the current planner’s hard work, but this one is a major fail. If you’re a tall, athletic, fast-metabolism creature, maybe calories have their place. When you’re a shrimpy Jew who despises all forms of athleticism, calories are a major source of agita: an unrelenting problem that creeps in and casts a storm cloud over every wrenching food-related choice that must be made: the Spartan dinner because lunch was too big and the savored vacation-time dinners, with awareness of the scale hovering like a monster in the background.
In my world, food will not be a source of energy; we’ll have energy all the time. Food will be a fabulous pleasure to be savored whenever the mood strikes, and it will have no power to destroy physique or health.
3) All bodies will be beautiful: each in its own special way.
In my world, no soul will be hampered by an unappealing physical casing. There will be a gorgeous range of physical types: fair skin; dark skin; straight, silky hair and curly, fascinating hair; eyes and hair of all shades; a range of facial features… but we’ll all enjoy attractiveness, to ourselves and to others. No body will be ravaged by disease, birth defect, or a poor showing in the genetic lottery. You might prefer some physical types to others, but you’ll never find a body unattractive or hard to face. Each body will reflect and amplify the personality it houses, helping others to appreciate its strengths.
4) No competition.
No, we’re not equal, and we’re each unique, but why have a world that exalts the few and pummels the many, when each one of us has our own particular path to meaning, glory, and self-expression? In my world, we’ll all explore our talents and interests to the full extent of our energy, passion, and ability. We’ll differ, sure, but not along a continuum of best to worst. There will be no grades, no reviews, no elite societies… there will just be people exploring their passions and sharing them with those on their wavelength.
We will be motivated, because delving into our interests and creating is motivation enough; we don’t need to feel that we’re triumphing over someone else in the process. This might sound impractical, but that won’t be an issue, because…
5) Every single conscious being will enjoy abundant resources, regardless of background, talent, personality, or any other factor.
Again, I do respect the current planner, but wow: this area needs a major revamping. Who thought of this system where those with lucky backgrounds enjoy leisure and self-development, while others slave away, cleaning or chopping or hauling crap just to survive? Who designed this place where a few strike gold and manage to support themselves while pursuing their deepest passions, while the vast majority spend gray days at soul-sucking jobs?
In my world, comfortable homes, lovely experiences, fun clothes… whatever you want… will be accessible to everyone. We will all be paid handsomely just for being born, and having to navigate the complexity of making our way through the world. We will each choose the home environment we love — hopping city, calm country, whatever — based not on cost, but on happiness.
Because there is no competition, we’ll lose that common tendency to show off based on possessions: “Look at me in my fancy car: bet you wish you had my talents, drive, spouse, trust fund, or whatever it is that allowed me to purchase it.” I just don’t see the beauty or purpose here, and I will organize things differently.
6) No lifestyle expectations regarding work, marriage or relationships, gender or gender expression, or anything else that doesn’t compromise basic civility or good-heartedness.
If you want to get married, of course feel free, but you will achieve no boosted status or financial reward for doing so. You would do it solely because you see that step as an appropriate expression of a particular form of love. Those who don’t thrive in marriages or romantic relationships will never be bothered, condemned, or chided for their own choices, which of course are just as worthy of praise and celebration.
Likewise, you can dress your beautiful body however you want, and act however you want, as long as you’re not directly hurting someone else emotionally or physically. Who exactly came up with this idea of women’s styles vs. men’s, for instance? Why do clothes in women’s departments commonly have weird low necks that seem to carry an underlying assumption that women will want to show as much of their bodies as possible? In my world, clothes to make everyone happy will exist in all sizes, to fit all shapes. Any gender that might be suggested through body type will completely reflect internal self-definition… and for some this might shift over time, with the same soul seeming male, female, neither, both, or something else entirely as the years progress.
As for work, you can pursue whatever passions drive you… or just sit around and soak up the breeze. There will be all kinds of motivations to work: forums to show your efforts off, people with whom to discuss your ideas. You can work because you love the process, not because you’re gunning for an award, or need to pay the bills.
And I believe that even those who don’t choose to work at first will wind up being productive somehow. Productivity is a wildly diverse concept. Talking to your friend and getting her to see an issue in a whole new way is work: potentially on the level of the most intricate psychotherapy. Going on vacation and connecting with people halfway around the world is work too: you’re touching new people in ways they may never forget. Work involves many activities beyond the desk or the field.
7) There will be no violence, physical or emotional, because why should there be? No one will feel as if life is unfair, threatening, or infuriating.
Black lives matter. All lives matter. None of this will matter because it will go without saying. It will be as obvious as asserting: “Trees exist,” which nobody bothers doing. We’ll each thrive and feel comfortable in the world, free of fear and envy. With each of us feeling good about ourselves, we’ll have no desire to harm other beings.
8) We will each feel welcome, and loved, by the world.
Whoever designed our current world seems to feel that love and belonging are perks and accomplishments, not universal rights. People with warm, embracing families and friends often talk about feeling “blessed” and “lucky”… to distinguish themselves from the unblessed and unlucky. I will demolish all scenes and systems underlying this notion. We are all deeply worthy, and deserve to receive that message clearly and continuously. Some might have trouble behaving in ways that elicit positive responses from others, but that would all change if we each felt comfortable and appreciated, along the lines of my other plans for the world.
9) We will be able to go anywhere we want by closing our eyes, rubbing our hands together, and explaining where we’d like to be.
Farewell to getting lost, asking directions, travel reservations, and stress when you want to change or cancel your plans. No more confusing Siri voice, maps, or GPS disasters. Whether you want to check out a store across town or journey to the other side of the globe, a quick command will get you there, and another one will get you back.
Aside from the wonderful boost in convenience and in ratio of enjoyable times (like being at your destination) to unpleasant times (like stressing over plane reservations and spending five hours with a seatmate who keeps blowing his nose right over your hand) this will tremendously increase understanding and contact among people around the world. Online and phone connection only goes so far for most. Imagine if someone living in the U.S. and someone living in Thailand could quickly move their amazing Facebook conversation to a real-life coffee meeting. The implications for worldwide sharing and friendship would be stunning.
10) This world will constantly evolve and improve: it will never become static or boring to the immortal souls who inhabit it.
I’ll never forget my childhood rabbi’s response when I asked him about the fate of my consciousness after death. He laughed and said I’d get sick of my consciousness by the time my life ended, so there was no need to pursue the question. I am a consciousness connoisseur who would never get sick of my own mental universe, even within the current world-planner’s distressing blueprint. But, apparently, some feel differently, and far be it from me to question their reactions.
I’ll simply say that change, progress, and excitement will be inherent to the world I envision. New situations and operating standards will constantly arise, as our minds and our appetites expand and develop new hungers. Perhaps we’ll develop the ability to bend or transcend time, or visit different universes, or see astonishing new colors, or hear a kind of music we cannot currently perceive or even imagine. Our never-ending lives will be rich and packed with wonder.
11) Any God or spiritual forces that might exist will be obvious to everyone.
What is with this sneaking and hiding and pussyfooting around when it comes to mystical truths and underlying wonder? If some kind of God or underlying power exists, why should some people sense it and others just wonder or even scoff? If we’re getting rid of competition and pointless distinctions among people, this will be key. No more saved vs. unsaved or spiritual elites vs. the masses. If some can see spiritual meaning, we should all be granted that gift.
Some might protest that spiritual sensitivity is bound up in free will: that we can’t force anyone to see or experience anything along those lines because, at a certain point, we choose how to interpret our perceptions — and that choice is key to our spiritual fabric. I say it’s time we blow that Popsicle stand. I want to perceive and consciously dance with any underlying holiness or power that might have a foothold in my world, and I want all my fellow humans to share that ability.
Imagine: if the world has inherent goodness and we all see and know it… it will infuse us all in a conscious way we can’t ignore. Any tendency towards violence or meanness that may linger despite my other changes will soften and shrink.
12) Anyone who truly prefers the old system — or some other system that might exist somewhere else on some plane we can’t currently access — is free to leave.
Maybe some aspect of my world horrifies you: goes against some key notion you hold of truth, or fairness, or balance. If so, you’re free to move on and create your own ideal world. If you do, I will miss you, but I would never hold you back. My world will develop communication with your world (unless you balk at that prospect) so we can be in touch.
13) All citizens of my world are free to make suggestions for new qualities and laws of existence.
Every single conscious being has power in my world, and your suggestions are always considered with utmost respect and openness. I am well aware that I am not better than you. I’m simply ready for a change, and this was my idea, so, for once, I am seizing an opportunity and milking the rewards. I hope to hear from you all! This is our world, our hope, our incredible present bursting towards a future that shines with undiscovered possibility.
It will be great…. even if it never breaks beyond the thick walls of our own imaginations. Imagination is its own form of truth.
Stephanie Wellen Levine is the author of Mystics, Mavericks, And Merrymakers: An Intimate Journey Among Hasidic Girls: winner of Moment Magazine’s 2004 Emerging Writer Book Award. Currently, Stephanie is on a spiritual quest as she completes a second book and teaches at Tufts University.