Many of you read this week’s title with a knowing smirk. Thinking, “well that comes as no surprise”. Some may think it leads into a story of a return to my native soil. A few sympathetic souls may dismiss and counter with, “But he seems like such a nice guy…” (Bless you, the few). However, for the most part, as a whole there is an inquisitive pondering of — Where the h*** are we going with this? Well to Hell, of course… in a manner of speaking.

If a physical Hell actually exists it would assuredly make for an interesting day trip. A guided tour of the underworld and all its facilities would be most theologically educational. “If you look to your left, we have our inferno video store where you can rent only Tim Allen films, and on our right…Hitler!”

However, an actual “Hell”, in the sense of an underground realm or lake of fire filled with eternal pain and suffering, seems improbable and impractical. In order to ascend, or in this case descend, you have to die. Theology theoretically implies that when you die your physical form is left behind and only the “soul” remains. So how would physically burning alive forever really work, or be an effective means of righteous punishment, if nothing physical remains? There are worse things…

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. What if the manifestation of Hell falls along that same principle? What if Hell is an endless, cycling, repetition? Much akin to trying to quit smoking.

An oft unmentioned potential side-effect of smoking cessation is vivid night terrors. Towards the end of the quitting cycle, when the body’s nicotine content reaches a certain level, horrifically realistic and highly detailed dreams may occur. It was on such an occasi

on that this writer rode the nicotine nightmare roller coaster straight down into the bowels of hades.

Awaking in a hospital bed, taking in the room, the walls are of dark rich wood paneling. Sliding out I find the floor covered in soft, inviting, brown shag carpeting. To the right is a small door leading to a made-for-one washroom. On the left stands a ceiling-high book case filed with favorites and some never before seen intriguing titles. Beside this, a cozy looking chair illuminated by the warm glow of a reading lamp.

Through the room’s only other door there is a log cabin kitchen overlaid with a 1950’s aesthetic.

At the table there is a place card with my name on it. Here also lies a scrambled egg sandwich, tall glass of sweet tea and a cup of coffee, creamed and sugared to my preferences. In sitting, it occurs that one kitchen wall is missing, giving way to a picturesque, dawning view of the mountainside.

The sandwich is delicious. The beverages are refreshing. There is a massive bear at the missing wall. (To note: this writer suffers Arkoudaphobia which is an irrationally intense fear of bears. More specifically, being mauled and eaten alive by said bears). Without warning or provocation the bear mauls and begins eating me alive and…

I wake up… in a hospital bed; in a room with walls of dark wood paneling and the cycle begins anew. The repetition continues for endless weeks in the dreamscape. The waking and being devoured always the same, with the only variation being the “when”.

Sometimes it’s mid-sandwich and at others its hours later, half-way through a good book. Sometimes I never make it out of the bed and sometimes entire days may pass before getting mauled in the shower. Hiding is pointless and there are no viable weapons. Climbing onto the roof only results in slow starvation as the bruin waits below.

In the end, running away seemed the only option; through the woods with the devil literally at my heels. Finally, truly waking, with the realization I’d just glimpsed mine own customized, personalized Hell.

But did I get away or did the background action just change?

At times we may feel we are living out our own version of purgatory, and wonder what did we ever do to deserve this? Life can be cruel, unforgiving and unkind at times, but you shouldn’t spend it wondering when the bear will show up.

I welcome almost all questions and comments via FOCUS, or E-mail me at [email protected].

Hope to hear from ya, until then try and stay focused. See ya.