Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Million Worlds

So the other night I was watching the Tony awards, marveling at some of the performances, particularly those of the guys in "Million Dollar Quartet," the play about the one and only time that Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash got together at Sun Records and made music.  The men who portrayed those musical icons were just amazing.  At one time in my life, I wanted to be on the Broadway stage more than anything else in the world.  I came close; got a couple of wayyyyyyy-off-off-off Broadway gigs, but never quite got the brass ring.  Too tall; not the right chemistry with an actress; I heard just about every reason a director and producer could throw my way.  When I found myself tending bar and waiting tables far more than I was acting, I decided that it was time to change careers.  I ultimately found myself in the best job I ever had in my life, in the rare books and manuscripts department of the library of the University of Virginia.  Alderman Library, where I got to handle letters written by Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe and Henry Adams; to care for first editions by everyone from Machiavelli to Rex Stout; to see original manuscripts by John Steinbeck and William Faulkner.  It was the University's attic, and it housed everything you would expect to find in rare books and manuscripts, plus oddball things like original Disney animation cels, political cartoon collections, and a huge collection of ancient Chinese seals.  I actually got to curate an exhibit of the seals, which was very well-received, and the highlight of my time there.

But every now and then, I sit through something like the Tonys, or a traveling production at the Hershey Theater, and I get positively wistful for the stage.

The great, amazing physicist Michio Kaku, in his book "Parallel Worlds" (I think) talks about the Million Worlds Theory.  It's a theory in physics which posits the idea that every time we make a decision, the timeline splits into two universes, one where we decided things one way and another, separate universe where things were decided the OTHER way.  Over time this has created millions and millions of worlds where everything that could possibly have happened, HAS happened on one or another of the worlds.  It sounds like science fiction, but the idea is actually supported by some pretty sophisticated mathematics.  Certainly, so far it has not been disproven.

So somewhere out there in the multiverse there is a version of me who at least once got good news from one of those directors or producers.  Who did get a chance to be on stage in the big time.  I find this strangely comforting.  I'd like to think I'm somewhere doing a revival of "Of Mice and Men" or playing Little John in a musical version of Mel Brooks' "Robin Hood:  Men In Tights."  Or "Spamalot," please Universe, let me be doing "Spamalot" somewhere!

I hope the other me is knocking their parallel universe socks off.

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