This week I got to feel a little bit of what I imagine it’s like in Heaven. But before I explain that let me talk for a minute about how I rate my music collection.
I’ve spent a lot of time assigning “star” ratings to my music. It took me a while to work out exactly how to think about it so that I could rate songs consistently. The first song I rated as five stars was Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane” and for a long time if I was considering rating a song a five I had to ask myself “is this as good as ‘Like a Hurricane?’” So I was very glad when I figured out a better way to think about it.
What I finally decided on was a simple criteria for each number of stars. One star is a track that actively lessens the enjoyment of my life. I don’t ever want to listen to a one star song again, especially not accidentally. Two stars is for songs that, while there may be nothing wrong with it, it’s not something that stands out for me. Two stars means I don’t care if I never hear that song again. Three stars is for tracks that I want to hear again, just not very often. Four stars are songs that I’d like to hear again, next week. And five star songs are songs I’d like to hear again tomorrow.
Mind you, I don’t hear all the four star songs once a week and I don’t hear all the five star songs every day, but I’d be happy to, that’s the criteria. Even for all of that though, it wasn’t enough, five ratings wasn’t quite granular enough. So to get that extra ratings edge I created a playlist, and in the spirit of “Spinal Tap,” I named it “Eleven.” The songs in “Eleven” are the songs I’d be happy to listen to twice in a row. They’re that good. To me.
So back to the little bit of Heaven. I was driving down the coast of Northern California, along beaches and through groves of redwoods. I hooked my phone up to the sound system and put the “Eleven” list in shuffle mode. Every song that started a little softly made me want to reach for the knob to turn the volume up, even “Turn It Up” by The Alan Parsons Project. Every song was amazing and wonderful. And the point where I figured out this experience must be a little like what it’s like to be in Heaven, was the point when I noticed that not only were the last ten songs I listened to all amazing, and not only was the song I was listening to right then wonderful, but I knew, knew, that the next one would be too. And realizing that I also realized there was just a little bit of tedium to too much good stuff. There was no chance for the next song to surprise me that it was fantastic.
I pointed this out to God, that if everything is wonderful, doesn’t it come around soon enough that nothing is wonderful? She says that in Heaven it started out like that but that she’s fixed it since. I asked how? She says it’s a trade secret.