There are one or two new projects in the works here at From the Heart and I’m excited to share the first one with you! Some time ago, a friend shared with me something called “An Eschatological Laundry List: A Partial Register of the 927 (or was it 928?) Eternal Truths.” This is a list created by author and psychotherapist Sheldon Kopp, and is printed as an epilogue in his book, If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him. Shortly afterwards, my husband taped a copy of this list, which has 43 items, onto our refrigerator.
I ignored it, partly because I did not know what “eschatological” meant, partly because it’s in tiny little print, and partly because one or two Eternal Truths feel like enough for me, let alone 43 of them. Then I started to see the list in various places on the web. The items on it are things like, “Love is not enough, but it sure helps,” and “We may have only ourselves, and one another. That may not be much, but that’s all there is,” and “How strange, that so often, it all seems worth it.”
But I noticed that no one really talked about the list when they posted it in different places, they just put it out there like, “Hey, isn’t this cool?” And seeing it stuck on my refrigerator between the Champaign-Danville Overhead Doors magnet and an orange Post-It note warning from Gabe that says, “No bad dinos in the house,” made me wonder, what is one supposed to do with something like this list? It seems cool and enlightened, but what does it actually mean? How does it help you live your life better? Are these Eternal Truths really true?
In my research on Sheldon Kopp and his laundry list, I’ve learned two useful things so far: 1) “eschatological” means “concerned with the ultimate or final things, such as death, the destiny of humanity, the future state, etc.” 2) Sheldon Kopp seems to have had a sense of humor. Here is how he described the list: “The subject of this particular letter was the foolishness of our professional pontificating….This was to be a zany private spoof, a way of tenderly making fun of myself. Instead, what emerged was a fragment of a cosmic joke, a visionary list of the truths which, at best, shape my life, provide answers to unasked questions, and give insights too powerfully simple to be grasped finally and forever.”
I love this attitude. It is very un-list like, in fact, because lists typically do not show you the connections between things; lists contain discrete, potentially unrelated items, and don’t lend themselves to deeper understanding. I love the playfulness of combining a word like “eschatological,” so weighty and doomsday-sounding, with the words “laundry list,” so mundane, everyday-ish, and non-threatening.
All this is to say that this has inspired me to take these 43 Eternal Truths one by one and see what they have to tell us. So our poetic Lenten journey of 40 Days in the Wilderness will continue on with an exploration of these 43 Eternal Truths (incorporating poetry whenever possible, of course!). The first ET is simply, “This is it!” On the surface this sounds like a call for presence in the here and now, which is good and important. But it’s not that simple; from a Christian perspective, for example, “this” is not really “it.” One’s perspective on how one lives their life now is profoundly shaped by how one understands, relates to, believes in the idea of everlasting life.
It feels a little scary to me to go down this road, but I’m going to give it a try. I hope you’ll be here too, and I hope you’ll write in with your thoughts along the way because I know they’ll be fabulous. So stay tuned because coming up next is: “Is this IT?”
What do you think?