Of This Alternative Universe

by Laura Jeliazkov | 2/28/18 2:05am

If the sun and the moon and the stars were all to align themselves differently, what would we find? In this alternate universe, how many roads would Robert Frost take? Instead of just two, five roads would diverge in a blue wood. He would travel down all five and be five travelers as once. He would stand and look down one road as far as he could to see where it bent in the undergrowth. One day, somewhere ages and ages hence, he would tell with a sigh of how his step trod black the leaves that covered the five roads. He would recount how the travel stretched him right weary, and how as he traveled on, he wished he could have chosen to be one instead of five. But knowing how time turns into time, he doubted he should ever return. Five roads diverged in a blue wood, and he — he took all the five, and that has made all the difference.

And in this alternate universe, time will turn into time as minute pours into minute. There will not be clocks on the wall; time will not move forward; time will not march chronologically along the tick marks of a straight-arrow timeline, no. Instead, on the wall will be buckets, and the passing of time will be measured as they fill. The tides of time climb drip-by-drip up the walls of the ages. If a clock becomes slow, the second hand is misaligned with the seconds that pass, and this is a fact that cannot be helped. But if a bucket becomes tipped — the water level runs the same line along the horizon.

In this alternate universe, what if people were blue with envy instead of green? And turquoise with sadness, or sienna with innocence, or tickled maroon. The colors could fall any way that they pleased. Perhaps they all mean everything. Or perhaps they all mean nothing. If they all mean nothing and all is the same, then every color is just as bright as the other at the same time that every color is just as dull as the other. The lines and the frameworks and the distinctions that guide our world fade, and we are left with nothing but a flat surface.

The sky would not look down at the earth. In this alternate universe, the flat surface of this earth would look down, rather than up, at the sky. The butterflies would flutter underfoot. The grass would grow in the direction away from the bottoms of our feet. With the universe flipped in this way, it would seem we are always on the precipice looking down. The valley of sky and solar system would stretch away before us, in all of their glory — but farther from our minds than before. We find we are not concerned with what lies below. Attention is grabbed by things higher by things more immediate. There is no worth in digging below. And so time is not spent looking down, instead we look up.

There, in this alternate universe, the hands are in the brain, and the brain is in the hands. We gesture to the axons that run through our bodies, we orchestrate like a conductor with a baton the coordination of our muscles and fingers and toes. Our brains, in our hands, send electrical impulses through the spines of the air. They touch and bounce back to us from the pieces of our world. From this, we read the corners and the angles and the nuances — just as bats with their echos. The vibrations rippling through our skulls.

With the hands of the brain, we fold paper origami. We begin with a single sheet of paper. Nothing more. No cuts, no glue, no markings. Whatever is constructed comes from the flat dimensions of that paper: a paper bounded by four straight sides of equal length and four right corners of equal angles. And yet the sculptures created become something much beyond these boundaries. The two-dimensional becomes three-dimensional. The flat gains a depth. In this alternate universe, knowledge of the world is a folded paper crane on a shelf in the big China cabinet in the back of the mind.

And so as Frost walks slowly down these five roads and through the blue forest, his gaze is intent on a piece of paper which he folds. His feet trod back the leaves beneath his feet. He twists and creases and turns with his mind and with his hands. The currents of electricity shimmer in the soft air around his body and the branches. A symphony shimmers alongside at the waving of the hand’s baton. The sky is one with the forest above him.

The flat piece before him slowly takes a life of its own. It becomes so much more than it was. Slowly, but surely, it grows edges. It finds shadows. A color that does not typically exist in this alternate universe starts to seep into it. A definition. A tangibility. And then — movement. We lift our hand to the sky. The paper origami lifts its wings and flutters away.

In this alternative universe, I take a walk through a garden of the kaleidoscopes of consciousness.