Finding Eternal Calm in a Chaotic World (Dante-ism)

-the action or practice of meditating: a life of meditation.
• a written or spoken discourse expressing considered thoughts on a subject: his later letters are intense meditations on man’s exploitation of his fellows.
ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French, from Latin meditatio(n-), from meditari (see meditate) .

We can practice meditation at any time and in many forms in our lives. Some of us practice it without realizing it.

I myself have been a longtime practitioner of something I like to call Dante-ism. It is an exercise in relaxation. The goal is to imagine a new level of hell for someone and through that visualization melt away the feelings of stress that you are currently experiencing. Dante probably imagined quite a few more levels than nine. I am sure he had to cut it short due to deadlines. I myself have blown way past double digit figures.

I find Dante-ism particularly effective while driving. Case in point. I find myself at a four-way stop sign waiting for a couple to exit the crosswalk when another car jumps their turn. I calmly let the tension go as I design a new level of hell for the driver; a time slightly less than eternity spent waiting for pedestrians at a crosswalk while an infinite stream of cars jump the gun. Not quite satisfied, an additional inspiration adds the coup de gras. The car stereo of the perpetrator will now be playing that one Rick Astley song (“ never gonna give you up …”*) in a loop. There are two dangers for you the designer when crafting these scenarios. The first is that you may visualize the imagery for too long forcing the drivers behind you to taylor a level of hell specifically for you. The second danger is that you run the risk of being stuck with that blasted song in your head the rest of the day.

I find Dante-ism to be especially calming in cases where a narrow escape from death has just occurred and the culprit is the carelessness of others. This experience is more common for those who commute to work but may also occur for those who actively participate in life as the role of an innocent pedestrian. The cases in this category that I am familiar with are usually attributed to someone not paying attention. The pedestrian scenario can provide more of a challenge when crafting a new level of hell if the perpetrator is sans automobile. In this case there is no vehicle with with which to imprison the guilty for all eternity and more imagination is required to craft the ultimate floor in your ever increasing high rise of hell.**

One may find that writers block is getting in the way crafting a sufficiently annoying level of hell. In such cases the afore mentioned cross walk scenario works well in a pinch. The idea of the guilty forever unable to cross an intersection can be quite calming. Throw in the video for that Rick Astley song in a loop on his smart phone and you have the ingredients for nirvana. Limit this scenario to cases where you have tried mightily but can not quite come up with an adequate scenario to achieve that state of calm that may be desperately required. Instead, use the opportunity to challenge your imagination. Bystanders can often be incorporated into the scene to help trap the perpetrator in time.

Creating the added annoyance factor is where ones imagination can be really be stretched. While I find it hard to fathom that someone would not find Rick Astley annoying, and neigh I say enjoyable, improbable events do occur in life and there is plenty of irritating songs out there to choose from. It is not important as to whether the perpetrator will find it maddening, it’s all about you . Remember meditation is a means to achieve personal growth and is meant to be a rewarding experience.

*I can’t bring myself to continue.
**Good band name by the way. I am thinking something in the Death Metal genre

Downtime for St. Peter (The Further Adventures of Herbert the Celestial Assistant)

Herbert was relaxing in the layover lounge (aka The Between Assignments Cubicle) and pondering the possibilities for his next assignment. He was a bit nervous as to what the future held for him. During his career as heavenly assistant he had worn many hats. Some had looked good on him and some had put him on Mr. Blackwell’s list.

He had been thinking about his very first task. It began as building hills but he was elevated* to head mountain builder. It seemed like yesterday but in heaven there really was no concept of time. His revery was interrupted by Solomon, no not that Solomon.

The truth was this Solomon was at the end of the line when the bucket of brains had run out. Rumor has it that tomato soup was substituted. Too bad a grilled cheese sandwich didn’t come with it.

“Time for your next assignment Herb,” announced Solomon.

“Could you call me Herbert? Only the big guy calls me Herb,” said Herbert.

“You mean God?”, asked Solomon.

“Yes of course. Is there another big guy?”

“Well no, but no one calls him big guy.”

“Oh, you don’t say. He doesn’t seem to mind.”

“Never mind that. You have your new assignment. It is only temporary though. You are vacation relief for Peter. “

“The heavenly gates Peter?”

“Yes of course. Is there any other?”

“Well there has to be. He can’t be the only Peter in heaven can he?”

“Probably not but lets not get exi, existen, uh deep. You are pulling relief duty at the heavenly gates”

“So Peter is taking a vacation?”

“Yep. He hasn’t had one since disco was popular.”

“Oh really. Did he have anything to do with that?”

“No and if he had any say it wouldn’t have ever happened. Don’t bring up leisure suits either. It will really get him started.”

“Um, Ok. So where does one go when you take a vacation from Heaven?”

“Colorado of course.”

“Makes sense, I did my best work there.”

“Here we are.”

“St. Peter this is Herbert”

“Nice to meet you Herbert. I’ll take it from here Solomon.”

“Right. Good luck Herbert”


“Ok Herbert. The job is pretty simple really. Here is the master list for today,” said Peter handing him a clipboard.

“A clipboard really? I was expecting something cooler.”

“This is heaven we don’t throw away what works. Pay attention Herbert.
Everyone on the list gets in. You will get a new list each day.”

“Everyone on the list gets in?”

“Yes of course. You were expecting that only the cool people got in ?
This isn’t a trendy New York nightclub.”

“I was looking forward to some judging.”

“Sorry to disappoint you but that has already take place.”

“Bummer. Must be depressing for you.”

“Not at all. Too much responsibility comes with that whole judging thing. So
back to the training part if you don’t mind. The enrollees will show up
periodically during your shift. You will ask them their name and check it
against the list.”

“What’s the point of a list if they all get in,” asked Herbert.

“Because from time to time there will be an error in routing.”

“Oh, kind of like an airline losing your luggage.”

“No, it’s nothing like that. So, are you always a smart ass?”

“Yea, it’s kind of my thing.”

“Oh, ok. Well try to tone it down a bit. These folks have just departed
their corporeal existence and may not appreciate your brand of

“Sorry, I’ll work on it. What happens if they are not on the list?”

“You apologize profusely for the mixup and you ring this bell. Someone will
respond immediately to take them to their final destination.”

“You’re right, it’s nothing like an airline losing your luggage.”

“If they are on the list you give them this pamphlet,” said Peter handing
him a sheet of parchment.


“It still works.”

“Oh, yea,” replied Herbert as he read the pamphlet.”

So Your Dead. Now What?

“Catchy Title”

“Thanks. I came up with that myself.”

“Keep your day job.”


“Nothing. Continue”

“Well. You give them a chance to read the pamphlet and then answer any
questions they may have.”

“I’m not sure I can answer any questions they have. “

“Don’t worry. As I said they are kind of numb when they get here and do not
tend to ask too many questions. Most of their questions will crop up at the
next weigh station. Those folks will handle it. Besides, I will be with
you the entire day and by the end you’ll be a pro. Don’t worry.”

“Ok, lets get to greeting.”


“You know. It’s kind of like being a Walmart greeter.”

“No, no it’s not. What did I tell you?”

“Knock off the smart-assery?”

“Yes. Please”.

The story continues.

*pun intended