Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Alternate Universe

Central Park Reservoir
Ok, I'll admit it, I was a little oblivious to all the talk of May 21, 2011 being Judgement Day.  My life has been hectic these past several weeks what with a major meeting and then our office was moving.   When I woke up on that Saturday morning, I did wonder aloud what I should do with my last day on earth.  One would think that I would have wanted to go out with a bang.   Clubbing anyone?

Instead I had a quiet day of the sort I like at home - a lot of photography, a brisk enough walk, a little napping, and a Glee marathon. I don't really get "Glee" when I watch a single episode but i am drawn in if I stumble upon it late on a weekend afternoon and there are oodles of episodes all in a row.  There is something about the zany little Universe that encompasses the show that just captures my attention.  The whole premise is mad genius -- that is for sure.  It is a slightly off-kilter version of high school that hits all the right notes.  

Yangtze Temple (China)
I woke up on Sunday and I was still me.  Or was I?   Maybe Judgement Day isn't about the world ending or the second coming but rather about just small tweaks in each of our lives that add up to our moving to a parallel universe.  One where things were are just a tiny bit different -- off as one might say -- such a small shift that you don't even notice it.  Or maybe there are giant differences but we are different as well.

Many have imagined alternate Universes -- think about the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland.  Those are just wonderful tales of plopping a fairly normal girl down into a new world and "letting 'er rip" so to speak.  There is a memorable quote from Alice that sums up what that must be like.  "I wonder if I've been changed in the night?  Let me think.  Was I the same when I got up this morning?  I almost think I can remember feeling a little different, but if I'm not the same, the next question is, "Who in the World am I?"  Aah, that's the great puzzle!"

And then there are those who imagine an alternate universe to the alternate universe.  Case in point, Wicked.   The Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the Wicked Witch?   And from the novel to the stage there is yet a third iteration on imagioning the land of Oz.  The stage show is less dark than the novel and there is a happy ending for the Wicked Witch (no "I'm melting").   Who needs wizards when we've got great artists to transport us out of our skin even if just only for a moment into the world of imagination.

Lion Roaring (Botswana)
In this post May 21 world, have we all gone down the rabbit hole and just don't realize it?  I tend to think not but perhaps that is because I did not get an alternate universe that is all that much different from the one I inhabited on May 21 .  We still moved our offices on Monday and I still went to Washington today and, as predicted, I am so tired my bones ache.  Surely my alternate universe would have given me a little more energy?  Perhaps I could have also acquired a lover or maybe even two or three.  And while we are at it, could we put the Emack & Bolio's on my corner so the peppermint patty ice cream with hot fudge is a bit closer to home instead of 14 blocks away?

And surely, in this new universe I'd get to travel a lot more than I currently do!  I'd have planned trips to India to see the Taj Mahal and Manitoba (Churchill) to see the polar bears and they'd be paid for!  In this alternate universe, I would own one of the owner's cottages on Mnemba for when I just want to relax and let my cares melt away.  And let's not forget Denali, Antarctica, Egypt, the North Pole, and great swaths of South America, Europe, and Asia.

Lest this be all about me-- I could do all this traveling because the things that I care about are no longer issues that need to be worked on.  Older adults all have access to good care, women have the right to choose, and the environment is clean with no global warming.  The economy is humming along and there is pay equity for all.  In fact, I would have enough money to make grants to develop new ways to solve the world's ills.  Maybe not money on the magnitude of Bill Gates but it would be nice to have a small foundation.

Grey Gingko Leaves (Central Park)
Clearly, I am not thinking along the lines of Frank Baum or Lewis Carroll in this alternate universe that I've imagined for myself.  But then again, I am a heroine of a different nature.  Alice was something of a spoiled brat when you get right down to it and Dorothy was just a sweet girl from Kansas.  They both served as perfect foils for the mad cast of characters that inherited their respective worlds.  

I, on the other hand, am a little older and a little wiser with the texture and layers that the years bring me.  I think I would embrace the adventure of finding  myself in a strange land and played croquet with the Queen and danced with the munchkins.   And surely I would have been the most interesting character around or at least the most snarky!  Obviously, I am well on my way to creating my own little utopia with this alternate universe theory.  

Sadly, since my left knee is really aching from sitting too long on trains and planes today and my train is a full two hours late into New York -- I am pretty sure that I'm occupying the world I occupied before Judgement Day.  It's a quite fine world when you get right down to it but it would be nice to have at least two of the many trips that i have yet to take to far off lands planned and paid for.   And, at 11:30 at night, I would love to be going home to an Emack & Bolio's on my corner.  

Somewhere over the rainbow.......  
Rainbow over Ngorogoro Crater (Tanzania)


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