Porkpie Hat—A New Universe

“Listen: there’s a hell/ of a good universe next door; let’s go” – e.e.  Cummings

He’s right, you know, take it from me! I’ve been back and forth quite a bit lately because I’m planning a permanent move, if only in my imagination.  Frankly, this one has been getting pretty sketchy.  There’s a lot to recommend this alternate world, believe me.  For one thing, Studio 54 is still in business, and Paris is a train ride away from New York.  On any given day, you might bump into Bowie at a sidewalk cafe, drinking an espresso with Frida Kahlo and Björk.  Every day is another pride parade, every night is a carnival.  Come for the culture, stay for the dancing.  And there are no orange-skinned creeps holding high office, so that alone is worth the admission.

Have you ever felt that way? That life could be so much sweeter, so much more decent, so much more fun? Have you ever just wanted to be spirited away? A friend of mine, when he was a child, saw a u.f.o.  Hovering over a cornfield.  He told me he was so terrified that he wet his pants.  He told me, at the same time, though, that it was the most intense and beautiful experience he had ever had.  The strange silver-grey ship hovering in a cloud of cream-and-purple light.  The sense he had that nothing would ever be the same.  He told me he has been searching for that feeling ever since.

I had the same feeling myself, one time.  Seven maybe, or eight years old, at the fairground, watching the lights of the rides, a thunderstorm closing in, the smell of electricity and spun sugar.  There is no denying it, there are just some moments in life when we feel more fully, well, alive.  Our skin just bristles with the sense of possibility.  That sense that there is more potential to life that we’ve let ourselves believe.

I think many of us have felt this way.  I think many of us have tried to wedge a foot in those doorways of possibilities, to step through into a world that might have been.  Often ineffectively, and sometimes tragically, we try to gain access with alcohol or drugs.  I’ve bought that ticket myself too many times.  Sometimes we catch a glimpse of this world between the lines of a poem, or between the bars of a song.  Sometimes we see its landscape reflected in another’s eyes.  Always, though, it seems to be fleeting.  At best, we’re left with a brief remembrance, a fading postcard.

Of course, there is no permanent escape, at least in this life.  We’re stuck with the world that we have, that we are every day, forever, creating as we go.  But what if we worked really hard? What if we lived with our minds and hearts a little more open? What if we laughed more often, dreamed bigger, cared more, and worked harder to lift our brothers and sisters up? What if each of us devoted ourselves, in whatever ways we can, to bestowing out gifts upon the world? Might we live more intensely, more fully, with more resonance and delight? Might we find the doorways we want to walk through lead into the world, instead away from it?

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