Look around you. Do things look sort of normal, but not quite right? Does it seem like the world is pretty close to what you thought it was and what it was gonna be back when you were a kid, but still different and wrong in too many ways?
Cuz I have a theory: I’m pretty sure we’re living in Bizarro world.
Stay with me here. This is a real thing. (Deep breath… Ready?)
Here’s the deal: something happened. The universe got changed without us noticing.
I think it was around the time that President Al Gore ended the war on scripted television… or when Randy Johnson left the Lakers to attempt a baseball career… or when Star Trek entered its unprecedented 35th season with Captain Spock at the helm of the U.S.S. Indifference.
Like all people who are full of crap but think they know something about science, I believe in multiple universes. All of these universes are similar and related, but the differences are significant.
It’s like this: you’re moving along nicely on the original timeline of the Happy Happy Joy Joy universe, and then somebody, somewhere, somehow, makes us take a turn. Something occurs that is so sinister, so heinous, so unprecedented that the line between the real universe and the bizarro universe gets… blurred.
From the perspective of its citizens, the Happy Happy Joy Joy universe just keeps moving along on its own lovely trajectory, with expanding justice, healthy, green forests, and tasteful furniture.
Meanwhile, the newly-created bizarro universe, infested with sharks and actor’s sons–the Douchenado Universe–well, it’s now moving us a different direction, though only a few are aware that things are not as they should be. Happiness plummets. Joy is curtailed. We are not living the life we were intended to. And we’re not sure what happened to us.
Our happiness got broke. Mine’s broke.
I’ve sometimes wondered if there isn’t a potential perfect plan for our individual lives, where we all live the Best Possible Life while we inhabit the Best Possible Universe. The life we were meant to discover. You know, we make the right friends, and go to the right college, and study the right subject, and get the right job, and move to the right city, and live the right life…
In this Panglossian world, this Pleasant Universe, we each make the right decision at every fork in the road, and we jointly maximize our individual potential, and we all create the greatest possible happiness.
The problem with the Pleasant universe is that anyone can ruin it: by flaunting one subtle-and-not-at-all-meant-to-be-innuendo red cherry, by careless driving, or by writing deadly earworms that destroy your peace forever.
In an imperfect world, the kind of world we’ve got, where all the possible futures keep getting shaken up like the Snowglobe of Fate, I don’t think there is a best, most perfect life. Your inner Tony Robbins tells you that you create your own fate, that you can chart your own course, but conditions change second by second, and you went off-course two wars and four congresses ago. The economy crashes; the zika virus mutates; kids won’t stop dabbing.
What if you do all the right things but the world around you fights back? What if somebody grabs the metaphorical steering wheel out of your metaphorical hands? Does anybody ask to be born in a war zone? You can’t dodge a bomb, Mr. Tony Robbins.
And even if you escape war and tragedy, you can’t guarantee you will achieve the life you intended. The world changes without warning. Ask the last guy to build a new Blockbuster Video.
Potholes abound; you’re gonna hit some. You make your way the best you can, making the best decisions you are capable of, day by day, moment by moment–but it’s always based on incomplete information and the faulty software in our heads.
Brain says, “Little Debbies will make you happy,” and you believe Brain. But Brain has bad software, and Brain doesn’t know everything. “Buy as much house as you can afford–prices will never drop!” the smart people say. Ha ha. Funny story about that.
So, here we are, in the Douchenado Universe, where nothing is as Pleasant it should be; where you can get blown up, or run over, or repossessed; where yesterday’s wisdom is today’s big mistake; where doing the best you can is better than not trying, but where being lucky is better than both. What do you do? With the Happy Happy Joy Joy universe now forever closed to us, receding at the speed of regret, what do you do to rediscover that Pleasant life you suspect you were supposed to live? How do we make it come true right here in bizarro world?
I guess the best advice I’ve heard since 1985 is what Charles de Mar told Lane Meyer:
“Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way… turn.”
It’s Bizarro World, and we’re all just doing the best we can. So, keep going that way really fast. If something gets in your way… turn.