When you find yourself in an alternative universe: Fictional Lesson #4

Do you ever get the feeling that you fell asleep in one universe, and woke up in another? I did, while out walking in our unseasonably warm weather, on this last afternoon of 2013. In the last two years, I’ve changed nearly everything in my life: work, vocation, where I live, who I live with. Radical change like that can feel like a shift from one universe to another. There’s that moment of disorientation, followed by growing unease as the differences become clearer, and then the new universe solidifies around you.

You realize you’re not in Kansas (or even on Earth) anymore.

Anything could happen next. You could look up and see two suns, or the face of a giant child for whom you are a toy. A little girl could turn toward you, revealing the face of a zombie. That scarecrow at the edge of the cornfield could speak – and wind up your best friend.

(While I’m mixing my pop culture references – Twilight Zone, Walking Dead,  The Wizard of Oz –  let me throw in Charles Yu’s beautiful book, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.) You could turn a corner and see a past (or future) version of yourself, and shoot it.

I’m feeling like this on my walk when the tiniest dog I’ve ever seen scampers up to say hello. A Yorkshire terrier puppy, about as big as my two hands held together. I pondered what this universe I’ve found myself in must look like to such a tiny creature. Yet the little dog is eager to greet me, to explore, to engage, to experience. It reminds me that one lesson of all those stories of real and dreamt universe side-stepping is fairly simple:

A photo taken at Snoqualmie this winter.
An alternative universe if there ever was one – and an amazing photo from my friend Ken Vensel. (Click photo to go to his Facebook page to see more of his work.)
Sit back. Relax. You’re here now, so enjoy the ride. And if you meet a future (or past) version of yourself, try not to shoot it.

I wonder what universe(s) will suddenly appear around us in 2014. Here’s hoping they bring joy and peace.

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