While walking by the Jehovah's Witness ladies -- usually a couple of older black women, a constant fixture at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station -- I saw the image on the front of the literature they distrubted. It was an island scene, apricot sun set, palm fronds and a lagoon, frozen in its ever lapping serenity. The message of this piece of literature was the attainment of paradise, seemingly a promise for following the religion these women were tirelessly handing out to overtired rush hour commuters. What caught my attention was that paradise looked vaguely familiar to me. I visited somewhere similar, an island awash in beauty. The paradise they promised, the one earned from hard work for a deity, actually exists in the here and now, only a short plane ride away. It is attainable and available to mortal flesh. These women could easily save up the money needed to get and settle there. How are the Jehovah's promising an afterlife that already exists on earth? The question remains, do these women consider island beauty Paradise? Many people consider NYC paradise. If you are looking for the fast-paced high culture of late 20th century America, NYC is, or was, it. Some find paradise in the redwoods of California: the stillness, the larger than human-form life, the fresh damp air. Others still find it in the small communities of New England. Perhaps the question to ask is: where is your paradise? If you can imagine it, does it exist in our reality, attainable by foot, plane or train? Wth Franklinian patience, maybe it can be found and settled in.
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