Reality has a weight.
Its weight is directly proportionate to ability to perceive it. The more the fish can understand the concept of water, the wetter it feels.
It’s not quite accurate to say life only gets harder, or more complex. These are often true, but even when the simplicity or ease of existence increases, so does the weight. Life gets denser and more real the deeper we go into it. Time and change cause the accretion of reality.
Live long enough and someone close to you will die. That experience alone makes reality heavier in a way that can never be undone. Someone who has suffered or been close to tragedy cannot ever get out from under the increased weight of reality brought by the events.
Maybe that’s the point.
Maybe reality is really, really unimaginably heavy. Maybe that’s inseparable from its beauty, power, and divinity. Maybe the time and sorrows we move through expose us to more of this weight only because they make us able to handle it. Maybe a deeper understanding of sorrow and the possibility of pain is the only thing that equips us to experience more of the fullness of joy and beauty and all the other unnamable facets of reality.
In The Great Divorce C.S. Lewis paints a picture of heaven that is not easy to experience. It hurts to walk on the grass because the new entrants into heaven aren’t dense enough, while heaven is as dense as anything could ever be. They have to become more real to experience the pleasure of grass bending underfoot. They have to increase their weight to not be crushed by the fullness of reality.
I think that’s more than a metaphor, and I think it begins before death.
Death is certainly some kind of doorway, but I suspect the process of embodying our full form, experiencing and uniting with the fullness of reality, or Theosis, as the ancient Christians called it, begins when we do. Coming into the fullness of heaven begins on earth. Reality gets heavier the further we move into it, and without realizing it, we get more capable of moving into more of it.
One of the great challenges is to accept the increasing weight of reality without becoming increasingly somber. To know and experience that weight and allow playfulness and laughter to increase in weight right along with it. The truest joy is solid as steel. Ever increasing reality is an immense load to bear, but an at least sometimes light heart is stronger than an always heavy one.