Chapter 8:  Overhaul


“Ever feel like society is ignoring the obvious?  We have an existential crisis on our hands.” Those were the first thoughts that came to Michelle’s head when she woke up.  She was afraid to go to sleep.  The strange vision/dream she experienced in the living area yesterday afternoon was still wigging her out.  But as she fell asleep the night before, she tried to meditate on something more positive, but the damn New wavers were making her feel she had no safe space to go to.   She thought about how she couldn’t reach Peter,  and how he was still living in his new condo by the beach.    Judging from what Cheryl apparently knew though, this time away from the new wavers seemed to have done him wonders.  Sure he was acting more withdrawn than she had ever remembered him being, but perhaps he had made the right choice: let himself regain his faith in people: staying away from these ding dongs and all the drama in the Boatyard.

As she stared at the ceiling that morning and wishing she could go back to sleep, Michelle started thinking about how state of affairs going on in the world were probably not helping Peter’s optimism — not from what she knew about him.    Michelle wondered if  the New wavers could only ignore legitimate contemporary problems for so long: nine hurricanes and four earthquakes in one month. Since they would never bring up stuff like this for all their complaining, she wondered  what they really thought about stuff like this.  These weather reports were worse than when her aunts had told her about their concerns twenty years ago.  And yet the New wavers made no visible sign to be even thinking about the obvious threats.  Try as she might, she could feel her own educated mind play tricks on her again: she couldn’t help think about her own economic problems.  “God” she thought to herself: was there really way out of the messes society was making?

“AI replacing staff at the clinic in six months” Michelle thought to herself.  “Neck feels like I’m being choked half the time; what the hell am I going to do?  Shut up!”   She stared blankly at the white ceiling above her bed for a minute.  So hard getting up every now and then.  “Gravity.  Weather patterns could finally change all this” she let her thoughts continue.  “How sick is that?” she almost felt relief at the idea.

“It’s too irrational; there is no proof!” she told herself while showering.  But she couldn’t shake the thoughts reminding her of things that Peter had once told her about: about how there were  limitations to traditional methods of testing to determine all physical reality. He claimed  top physicists had known about this for decades: simply put, there were limits as to how much empirical testing and the scientific method could prove everything that was considered reality.  ‘Otherwise, how do you explain love and relationships?‘  Peter had once argued to someone. It was weird that he was the one that had brought that up. ‘If we’re just the product of chemical reactions and more or less robots, how do you explain you signing up to go to med school out of your own free will in the first place?‘  Peter had spoken about strange things in physics she barely herself understood; about the Planck length and beyond that tiny scale of measuring reality, the limits then to time and space in physics — the limits to understanding reality by conventional means of metrics.  Which one mattered more? Human consciousness and every how individual interacted with waking life, or physical reality in itself?

*  *  *

“What if consciousness somehow did influence physical reality by some means that no one had ever thought about?” she asked Cheryl while they stopped for a drink at Erin’s.  “Peter argues that a person can’t just separate these issues as two unrelatable topics just because it conveniently did not suit one’s academic thought process. I have to agree: that would be naïve.”

“Naw” Cheryl responded dismissively.  “I know Peter.  He thinks it’s more the magnetic field and nano pollution.  Despite how he comes across, he’s not really the full-blown crazy conspiracy theorist everyone thinks he is – at least not like you” she said facetiously. “You’re bunching everything together.  Market crashes, automation, weather patterns, and now this theory.  Could you think of anything just a little more optimistic?”

“Well, it seems to be the most logical way to explain the weather patterns lately” Michelle insisted. “The weather had started getting especially scary twenty years ago, going up and down and getting progressively more bizarre, but never like this.”

Cheryl shook her head and through a crumpled up piece of paper against the restaurant window with anxiety.  “This isn’t a movie.”

“We don’t have an unlimited amount of resources” Michelle insisted.  “Look what happened twenty years ago.  We barely got out of that and haven’t learned any lessons.”

“Lighten up!” Cheryl insisted. “Why do you always want to think about this kind of shit?  Things don’t ultimately work like that.  There are experts who figure out how to fix these things.”

“Cities literally abandoned by the south-coast while land bridges started to develop in the most unlikely of places” Michelle went on wondering. “Islands falling apart. Electromagnetic anomalies and strange lights in the atmosphere reported, and everybody just keeps… dismissing it!   It’s almost like the world was flipping upside down in itself. Division division division.  We can’t settle our differences this time; we’re as good as dead; not enough intelligent people can see through the fog.”

“Get a hold of yourself! I came here trying to vent about the problems with Kara and the others this morning, and then you get all…just making it worse!”

Michelle looked out the window and shook her head before she slammed it on the table.  “I’m sorry, I’m sorry! You’re right.  This isn’t helping.”  She could see the daylight outside of the windows through her long black locks that were covering her face as turned her head. “ I just get scared and frustrated.  I don’t know how to express some thoughts sometimes.”

“Nobody knows how to express stuff like that” Cheryl said sympathetically. “Nobody knows how to express” Michelle said.



“I don’t understand” she thought to herself miserably as she walked home. “I must just be going insane.”  But that proverbial elephant in the room: “nobody really wants to talk about these things” she thought to herself, even though these threats seemed so obvious.   She was frustrated: even if her intuition was right – nobody cared it seemed.  And the helplessness she was feeling  didn’t seem to be doing her anything for her well being.   But if these anxieties she was having about  contemporary problems were correct, why couldn’t others sense it?  Worse was the bigger anxiety that had been weighing on her mind.  Even before the strange visions/dreams had started occurring, this thought had been growing  every month.  She had tried to avoid the news for a while, but then sooner or later some member of the Boatyard would blab about some new  catastrophe going on somewhere on the planet: something that seemed to reinforce her concerns about the world that drove her to wonder if there was any connection with her anxieties.  Something with the atmosphere around her really was starting to trouble her.

It was funny: she had read how almost all ancient civilizations would see omens in the sky and fear the worst:  multiple blood moons, eclipses followed by earthquakes and be scared… and sometimes for valid reasons.

“And yet we so stupidly in this day and age write them off as coincidence” she thought while crossing the greenways towards home.  It never seemed to amaze her: same physical beautiful day around her, and all it took were some anxieties to take away the potency of the afternoon.

“And if it’s true there’s no such thing as omens, then why be so scared?” she kept trying to convince herself.  But the truth was she was scared, either she was losing her mind, or the whole world was crazier for not noticing and really trying to confront these things.

“But every generation always complains the world is going to end” she argued with herself. “Yeah but never like this; weather patterns got spooky twenty years ago, but they’ve never been this bad” The thoughts kept going back and forth. As she approached the Boatyard,  she recalled how the other night she could feel another one of those invisible gravitational pulls coming from the sky again throwing her out of equilibrium.

“Be careful not to fall into superstition” Tim had advised her that afternoon.  Great advice.

“You know, the Aztecs and other native American civilizations?” she replied. “we romanticize about them and yet we dismiss them as backwards and superstitious for believing in signs and omens, and yet most of us in this modern world don’t even like all this complexity.  I mean, it’s not making us better.  It’s almost as if the world felt like it was in spiritual suicide; secretly wishing for its madness to end.  So in a way it’s perfect this was happening, right?”

“So why feed into it?”  Foresman asked her.

“I don’t know, but here’s a better question: why do the New Wavers get caught up with all these social issues, but never take it to a larger relevant level?”

“Maybe they just ultimately focus on the wrong thing” Tim replied.

She planned to meet Harry at a local eatery in Seekonk  later that afternoon just to clear her head.  Jamie was good to talk to, but Michelle knew she couldn’t always handle heavy discussions all the time.  Peter would have been ideal to talk to since some of her own theories had been inspired by his ideas.  But since he was pretty much MIA, Michelle needed someone who could handled mapping out her thoughts a little.   As she sat there confessing some of her troubles, Harry looked surprised — almost overwhelmed.  He had always thought her as the strong one.

“That’s too crazy a theory” he said to her with his kind eyes, but he looked uncertain at the same time as he said it.  Michelle’s rant about what she was thinking about the other night had really unsettled him.

“Hey, Peter can be a dick sometimes” Michelle agreed.  “but some of his theories make a lot of sense to me.” She sipped her milkshake and tried to just enjoy the drink – and not think about anything else.

“Maybe it’s better not to think about stuff like this at all” Harry counseled her. “You really sometimes go too deep.  I just don’t know…”

“Look;  our thoughts do not just exist because they are driven by chemical impulses” she reasoned, but really it was more to herself. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t even be scared right now:  I know I don’t have a chemical imbalance.  I can still control these thoughts and shut them on and off.  I just don’t like the idea that they appear now from out of nowhere.”

Harry said nothing.

“I know this does not make any sense” she confessed. “I’m just getting this constant earnest something… just trying to make sense of all of this in my mind: the weather; something:  storm brewing while everyone is oblivious.  Look it’s not just our roommates.  So many people act just like them.  Look at the news!”

“Don’t watch the news” Harry reminded her.  “It screws up your day.”

“I don’t know” she thought quietly as squeezed her drink. “Sometimes it would make sense to bridge that together. I feel there’s a connection that really starts to answer all these questions.  We’re responsible for the state of the world.”

“Yeah, pollution”  Harry reasoned back while he let her own words sink in for a bit.

“Ever notice how not one country has ever invested in research and development to truly understand existential issues effecting life itself?’ she considered after a while. “ Blending science and something more profound about the human experience — like people’s attitudes and the mechanisms of moral cause and effect.”

“Sounds like religion.”

“No, not religion, something more empirical; I don’t know” Michelle mumbled with frustration.  “I can’t speak for others, but this is the only thing now that makes sense to me.”  She tried to explain to him how she felt  that the answer to every mystery in waking life was wedged somewhere in between multiple ideologies: rationalism, spirituality, and still fighting for some healthy state of emotion.  God, I’m sounding crazy again, aren’t I?”

“No, it’s ok.  You’re fine” Harry re-assured her.  “That’s an interesting idea.  Governments exploring the science of morality, if there ever really was a universal truth.  Never thought of that one before.”

“I need to understand something deeper to all this” Michelle continued. “Values yes, but something even deeper, I swear. I wish I could find it in religion or something,  But I can’t.   There’s no incentive, maybe” she trailed off miserably. “Is there an energy element that could give us power away from all this?” she wondered again to herself.   Harry had to smile.

“What?  Why are you doing that?”

“Jamie already told me told me all about your weird theory.  I  think you forgot you talked to her about it and hearing it before has given me time to really absorb what the hell you’re really trying to say.  It’s not that I don’t agree with you; I just think that’s one of the most insane theories I’ve ever heard.”


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