Inside Where?

Grand Central Motion
Originally uploaded by boardhound.
I’ve been reading Neverwhere: A Novel, by Neil Gaiman the past few days. Neil writes along that thin line that distinguishes reality from alternate universes.

In this particular story the protagonist, Richard, who was going about a rather dull existence, engaged to an attractive emasculating control freak, comes across a wounded gal slumped in the sidewalk. His fiancé wants to keep moving, but he stops to help her and loses everything as a result. Doing the right thing hurdles him into a life he never saw coming. The girl is called Door and comes from a world that exists under London, and she is royalty. The trick is, you can’t live in two worlds – it’s either London proper or the London Underground. Richard, slips into the Underground as a result of helping Door and finds that he no longer is a recognized entity in his old life. As far as his old life is concerned he’s vanished. People he once was close to don’t even see him when he is standing right in front of them.

The world he is now a part of constantly throws him off. He keeps encountering things that in his logical old life above simply don’t make sense, are too extraordinary for his head to take in. At first he keeps trying to make sense of it all. Eventually he starts to accept the oddities and impossibilities that face him at every turn. There are times when Richard writes a narrative in his head, putting together all that has brought him to here and now… and they usually end with “I want to go home.”

I can’t help but feel kinship with this character. More and more I encounter events, people, things that go against what I makes sense to me; things that if I try and rationalize they just don’t add up and I am left with a choice: try and make the world I am in fit into my expectations, or start accepting the extraordinary and out-of-box realities of every moment. There are people I meet that, if I follow my prejudices and expectations, should be complete screw ups, and yet, are some of the strongest hearts I’ve encountered. There are choices with which I am faced that if I try to live out of the life I lost, will only make the life before me miserable.

Things don’t make nearly as much, nearly as much sense as I would like them to. Life isn’t nearly as neat and comfortable as I tell myself at the party in my head. There are times where I simply wish things could go back to the way they were… whatever that is. And there are days where, like Richard, I just sit down and wish the next big thing would take me out and that’s that. There are more, though, that I stumble upon the inexplicable and have grown comfortable enough to accept it for what it is. Doesn’t mean I like it every time. It just means it is what it is, life right now. Not life yesterday.

Maybe that is what makes fairy tales so attractive. Maybe there is a part of us that resonates with Alice in her Wonderland because when our eyes adjust to the light of life here and now, we, too, feel things aren’t what they once seemed. Maybe we’ve lost the ability to tell the tale extraordinaire, because we keep hoping for something less momentous. But doing the right thing might just pull us through the looking glass into a life we never saw coming.
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