www.whyville.net Feb 19, 2012 Weekly Issue

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A Barn Full of Memories

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As normal human beings, we experience a rushed and chaotic world. With this we sometimes don't see the details of life and miss the big picture. These moments open our mind to the possibilities beyond the horizon of Earth, into a space known as paradise. I was the type of person who never really saw life as something beyond the norm. It was when I read a book titled "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" by Mitch Albom, that I started to see life differently.

Mitch Albom tells a story about a man named Eddie, whom we find out later, is his uncle. Eddie worked maintenance at a small amusement park named Ruby Pier. Ruby Pier was run by his father and was passed on to Eddie. It is here where Eddie dies and moves on to heaven. The book is based on telling the story of Eddie's life and primarily the five people who have made an impact on his life. The reason why I closely analyze life is because of the people Eddie meets in heaven. Some of the individuals are people Eddie has strong connections to; for instance his wife and his fellow soldier. However, it is the people that Eddie does not know that strongly represent the complex nature of life. This was the first time I realized that life is planned in Gods hands but heaven can be created all on our own.

Throughout Eddie's journey through heaven, he meets people that have had an impact on his life. To his surprise, most of the people he meets are strangers. One man was in Eddie's life for a mere two seconds; "The Blue Man" is what he is referred to. Eddie was a child who was playing on the street and The Blue Man had to steer his car out of the way to avoid killing him. As a result The Blue Man died but Eddie lived. Strangers can be in your life for a mere two seconds, but one move and you can change their life forever. "Strangers are just family you have yet to come to know." (Albom 49). Some people might hold themselves back when it comes to strangers. I on the other hand feel comfortable around strangers. I feel like everyone may have different lives, but we all have something in common, and that is living life completely. My heaven is a place where people can become family. At some point in time, we were all strangers, but opening up and bringing these strangers close creates the potential for them to become more than just that. "Each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one." (Albom 196). When Eddie meets all these people he learns that his life on Earth was much more than he thought it was. He now saw life through a different looking glass, and was given answers.

No matter how hard we try to avoid it, we all seem to have regrets. It seems nothing will fill the void when we have something on our shoulders. I have had a particular moment in my life where I did not tell someone how much I appreciated him or her, or how much he or she meant to me. It was this that created the regretful feeling of guilt. This regret left marks in my life that cannot be taken away. Like scars, these memories can be healed but the mark it leaves behind will live on forever. Eddie has this guilt as well. Being a veteran of war, there are things that he has done that he is not very proud of. There was an incident in the Philippians where he was burning down huts, thinking they were empty. It was out of anger, frustration and the typical rush of war. Suddenly he saw a body move from inside the hut. He then began shouting "I'm a soldier!" Desperately trying to get, what appear to be a young girl, to come out. There was no hope here, and the girl ended up dying in the fire. The final person Eddie meets in heaven is a little girl. The girl from the fire, the one who Eddie saw in the hut. The girl is full of scars from the fire; Eddie could not bear to look at her, but she gestured for him to come over. She was with other children who were washing up in the stream that was warmed by a volcano in the distance. She then held out a rock and said to Eddie, "You wash me?" Eddie then began to wash her face and the scars began to disappear. It was as if Eddie was clearing the past that haunted him. This was a way the little girl was expressing forgiveness. With this wonderful lesson, I learned that no matter what race, religion or belief you have, every forgiving human being would spend eternity in a place where they hold dear to their heart; a paradise for them to cherish.

The powerful message this book has on many individuals around the world is something I expected. The strong influence it has on how I view life and death was very unexpected. After reading this book, I believe that I can create my own heaven. I also learned that much of us are like Eddie in some way. I found that I was making this journey with Eddie. Before reading the novel, I viewed life with one perspective; I had tunnel vision. The perspective I had was we live and we die and nothing was planned nor was anything worth questioning. Eddie was much like this before he passed on. Death for Eddie did not seem to bother him. He also never believed one could ever know when they are going to die. "At their funerals, Eddie listened as mourners recalled their final conversations. 'It was if he knew he was going to die . . .' some would say. Eddie never believed that. As far as he could tell, when your time came, it came, and that was that." (Albom 13). Much like Eddie, from the beginning of his journey, life was full of unanswered questions. Mitch Albom displays heaven as beyond the angels and clouds. From the novel, I learned that heaven is a place that reminds us what life is all about.

In the distance is a dirt road that curves into a hill, which leads to a piece of land. The road is one way and about a mile away. It may take some time before one can reach the hill but patience is a virtue. The sun is strong and you can feel the rays of heat grace your exposed skin. Before reaching the hill, there is nothing much to see, the land is bare and dry. The road has potholes that seem to have been filled in once before. One tree welcomes you on the side of the road, for it is the only tree within the one-mile. The only object visible is a mailbox that is marked, "Taylor's". Every step I took, the gravel beneath my feet would crunch and grind. Getting close to the hill I discover more scenery. Grass starts to form on the left of the field and begins to get longer as I walk further up the road. To my right is an open field of wheat and to my left is a giant pile of firewood. You can smell the freshly cut wood as the wind passes on the aroma. Just a couple steps ahead is a hill imbedded with rocks. These rocks are all different shapes and colors. The grass is now a foot high and shapes the road as it curves to the top. There are two trees, a maple and an oak that sit on the left side of the hill and cool the rocks with their overpowering shade. Leading up the hill slowly exposed a barn that housed a mouthful of memories that could write a novel. In that barn was my heaven. My heaven bares no prejudice, no chaos and no pollution. It is a place where family is born and is never torn apart. Surrounding the barn are slates of cedar wood. The wood may be old but the story it tells is eternal. It is a place where family, including cousins and friends share laughter, stories and countless memories together. Where no one could fight over money and where no one is brainwashed into consumerism. Here, you can see the wind before it hit your skin, the sound of cars and highways are cleared and crickets replaced counting sheep to get a good nights rest. Darkness is replaced with hundreds of stars and the moon replaces city lights. Grass is infinite to garbage and trees are superior to buildings. It is where you can notice the details and finally see life and its precious moments. This is a place where I would spend most of my summers. It was somewhere I could be free and connect with nature. This was Nonno Vincenzo's farm, my paradise.

Nonno Vincenzo's farm has been recently put up for sale. My heaven has been placed on the market. For me, its economic value is nothing compared to its selfless value. I always knew that my heaven would be a place that I held dear to my heart. The emotional attachment I have with this place is eternal. Like Eddie's heaven, Nonno Vincenzo's farm holds a deeper meaning that is cannot be explained; it can only be felt and experienced. It's a part of me that outlines my entire self to the core. It resonates deeply into my emotional outlook on what life is all about, and has helped me become more aware of life's journey. I realize that everyone is connected in this world, that we are all part of the same puzzle. We may break away from each other but the mark we made will be deeply crested into the Earth's crust.

Author's Npte: Source: "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" Novel by: Mitch Albom


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