Once there was a terrible, terrible place where all the gods lived. It was awful. They had food, but it smelled like poop. And their bodies were covered with sores. The sores itched and burned, and if you touched them they hurt like paper cuts. Also, everyone had to pee all the time, and they’d go and pee, but it would still feel like they had to pee really, really badly.
Their houses and shops and business were all situated on a vast, muddy plain. The mud smelled like rotten eggs and it splattered and stuck to their shoes and socks and pants. Strangely, in spite of the wet mud, the sky was cloudless and so unpleasantly sunny that everyone was always squinting. The sun didn’t dry out the mud, though, and everyone’s underwear got sweaty and sticky, and they would change their underwear a dozen times a day but it didn’t help. Even the fresh underwear sitting in their drawers was wet and sticky and smelled like a crotch.
The worst thing, though, was how crowded it was. The sidewalks were packed, and no god could go anywhere without bumping into and through hundreds of others, all of whom were sticky with sweat. Gods frequently got pushed into the mud, not on purpose, but just from the swell of the crowd. If they wanted to visit anyone, it would take a very long time to get there, no matter where they were going. At least an hour, and it would be crowded on the way and they couldn’t walk at the speed they wanted because the paths were all blocked with other gods going the opposite direction, or with single gods weaving back and forth in front of them talking into telephones and unaware of their surroundings.
And one day the gods said, “enough, let’s make a better place.” And so they sat down and they became one single god, because they reasoned that this would decrease suffering. After all, the suffering of a thousand beings must be greater than that of a single being, even if that single being was composed of a thousand beings. Perhaps this was a mistaken assumption, but the gods were too itchy and uncomfortable to think about it for long.
So they made another world. It wasn’t perfect. If you had seen an infinite number of worlds you probably wouldn’t make this one. But it was so much better than the world where they lived that that they thought it was perfect. And they called it “earth,” which meant “place that isn’t so sticky.” Then, because there was now another place, they had to give their own world a name, and they called it “heaven,” which in their language means “muddy, piercingly bright place where the food smells like shit.”
So on the earth they made oceans and cities and towns, and in some of the places they put people, who were like gods only less miserable. The people would travel from one place to another, and sometimes it took too long, and the way was crowded, but not always. The people ate food, and on rare occasions the food was rotten, but most of it was ok. There were some nice, open places, and it was cloudy at times, and mostly you could get dry underwear if you really wanted it. People still got sores on their bodies or in their mouths, which was unpleasant, but they usually didn’t have sores, and so the sore was more of a nuisance than a constant reminder of how horrible life was. Thus, the people were moderately happy, and they worshipped the gods and thanked them for existence.
The people thought that the gods must live in a place far better than earth, and the people also called this place “heaven,” which in their language meant, “the best possible place that could be.” And they dreamed that when they died they would go there and be with the gods, who they imagined as perfectly happy beings. The gods thought that this was hilarious, because, really, how are you going to go anywhere after you die? and also because, if the gods lived in such a nice place why would they make a worse one? But at least it made the gods laugh, which, for a minute, made heaven a little less unbearable.