When I was younger, I thought it would be awesome if, when I died, I would be able to watch my entire life again. Like a movie. Birth to death, start to finish. Probably from my then-perspective. Or maybe as directed by Steven Spielberg, since my favorite movies at the time involved Indiana Jones. As I got older, I’m sure I imagined my life as retold by the Coen Brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson or the guy who directed Goodfellas. I liked Dumb and Dumber a lot, too.
But the movie itself wasn’t the only part of this idea that appealed to me. The movie also doubled as a test. As I watched my complete life movie, I would point out all the bad things I did. Maybe via multiple-choice or essay, I wasn’t sure. If I counted all my sins (or some reasonable amount, say 70%), I get into heaven. And if I somehow earn an “A” on my life test, I even earn membership into the only club in heaven that had unlimited porn and tube socks.
To 12-year-old me, this seemed eminently believable, even logical and probable. It also took power from bullies, bad grades and masturbation compulsions. It meant that this life — this life of weird illogical confusion and hurtful unprovoked beatings — wasn’t my real life. It wasn’t real. The bruises and cuts weren’t real: just content for a test I take later to determine my worthiness of heaven.
This belief structure guided me into my 20s, with varying levels of actual day-to-day impact, applicability and usefulness.