The Werewolf and the Unicorn

What’s up, folks? I know, it’s been a long, long hiatus. I know that is the lamest excuse a person can trot out, but I’ve been fucking busy. I’ve been traveling on weekends, had visitors the last two weeks, and work has been insane. I’ve been bringing a lot home on the weekends. My world has been moving really fast over the last several weeks, and although part of me feels like I have been running in place, another part of me feels like shit is shaking loose. Finally.

If you “travel” in the right circles, you hear a lot now about subjective reality, seeing different movies, creating your own experience, and “The Algorithm.” Elon Musk went on Joe Rogan and told the world that there was a strong probability that this is all just an elaborate simulation. If that is the case, coincidences, ghosts, déjà vu, and random, strange events are all in the program or are hiccups. It sort of makes sense, right?

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought over the last several months, and although it makes me uncomfortable to think that I’m not “really real” in the sense that I was programmed to believe, I like the idea of being able to sort of create my own reality. That sounds like a good way to live out my life the way I want to, within reason.

I was looking back through a bunch of old Facebook posts, and I happened across one from back in August, when I was down in Columbia, Missouri for my best friend’s wedding, and it really got me to thinking. It got me to thinking at the time, but every time I’ve thought about it since, it just… It freaks me out a little.

My friend’s now-husband has a HUGE family. There are so many, I still don’t know all his brothers’ names, let alone their girlfriends, wives, and children. Anyway, they rented a huge house outside the city to house everyone, and it came complete with a beautiful in-ground pool, hot tub, and a lovely fire pit. They had us all out for a big pool party and BBQ two nights before the wedding, which was great.

We sat around the campfire, and the groom’s brothers sang songs because they’re in a band, and all but three of us were granola hippies. Anyway, we were talking and telling stories, and at some point during the evening, I managed to bring up the fact that I have an irrational fear of werewolves, which is totally true. My mother showed me Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf book when I was about three, and there’s a picture in it of a werewolf ripping a guy’s face off, and it scarred me for life. I’m not afraid of any monster except for werewolves.

I left the party around 12:30, and it was about a 30-minute drive from the hills back into town. I dropped off another member of the wedding party and then made my way back over to my AirBnB, which was in a quiet neighborhood away from the Mizzou campus. I turned down the first street, and as I made a left turn onto the first side street, I almost had a heart attack.

Walking up the middle of the road was a person wearing a full werewolf costume.

No, I am not lying or making this up. It was a full costume, headpiece, gloves, and all. I could not see the person’s face at all, and their hands were completely covered by the gloves, which had long claws sticking out from them. It was 100% one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me.

I couldn’t decide whether to floor it, hit the person, or get out and fight them to the death. I immediately decided the last option was the worst. It was a serious toss-up for a minute about hitting them. In the end, I decided to continue as though nothing was wrong.

 As I drove up alongside them, the person looked directly at me and stopped. They watched me as I drove past, and then they continued on up the road as though nothing at all had happened. I was shaking like a leaf, and I drove straight to the AirBnB, got my keys in between my fingers before getting out of the car, ran up to the door, unlocked it as fast as I could, and locked all the doors behind me and then checked to make sure the windows were bolted. I closed all of the curtains and stayed up for a very, very long time after that.

 We all had a good laugh the next day, but my mind has returned several times to the incident over the last several months because the timing of it was so very strange. Every time I think about it, I think about the odds of it happening, and I think over and over again that it seemed really real.

 That was the crazy part. It seemed real. It seemed as though this person had literally walked out of some alternate dimension. It felt that way. It felt like two world weirdly collided, and we just happened to be witnessing one another during that collision. But it also seemed like the collision was intended for me, like someone or something was fucking with me.

 That probably makes it sound like I think werewolves are real. Well, here’s the thing: I don’t. But also I do. Do I think there are literally human beings that turn into half-wolf, half-human hybrids? Well, I haven’t seen that, so I can’t comment, but I have witnessed a very weird person that looked like a werewolf appear out of nowhere and walk alongside my car in the middle of a late August night.

 What if – hear me out – I imagined the whole thing into reality? Because I genuinely am terrified of werewolves. In the past, when I have talked about something or written about it, I have had it come true later – sometimes scant hours later. It makes me wonder what is going on in our weird world.  

Quantum experiments have shown that we can, to some small degree, predict the future. What if we are actually able to manipulate events through sheer force of will and emotion? Because it seems to me that extreme desire and extreme fear are the main things that have the greatest effect on this, at least based on my own personal experience. In other words, it works a lot like the stock market, where fear and greed (warped desire) rule the day.

 What if we can bend the world according to our will?

“Learn to code,” indeed!

 I sat down last night with my girls, and since it was my turn to pick a movie, I elected The Last Unicorn, a childhood favorite of mine. I love it because it is a strange story, and there is no happy ending. You want Amalthea and Lir to get married and live happily ever after, but she changes back into a unicorn, saves the others, and leaves him behind with his broken heart. It slays me every time, although oddly it did not as a child. In my youth, I understood quite clearly that she had made the right choice. As an adult, I see the difficulty of the situation much more clearly. The older we get, the harder it is to be a hero.

 One of the most interesting portions of the movie is when the unicorn is captured by Mommy Fortuna (voiced brilliantly by Angela Lansbury), the witch who casts spells that make ordinary creatures appear to be mythical beasts, a “truite au bleu,” as she puts it.

 “No, she can’t turn cream into butter, but she can make a lion look like a manticore to eyes that want to see a manticore.”

Stated differently and from the book instead of the movie: “Only to a magician is the world forever fluid, infinitely mutable, and forever new. Only he knows the secret of change, only he knows truly that all things are crouched in eagerness to become something else, and it is from this universal tension that he draws his power.”

 There is a recurring theme in the story that things are often what we believe them to be, more than anything else. The first quarter of the movie features the unicorn traveling along the road and people routinely mistaking her for a white horse. They cannot even see her horn because they are not expecting to see it there. Mommy Fortuna and Schmendrick are the first two people to see her as she truly is. They both have some understanding and command of magic. Rook, Mommy Fortuna’s helper and approximately as unmagical as you might imagine a person to be, sees a dead horse when in fact she is a sleeping unicorn.

 As the movie progresses, you might notice that the only people who can see unicorns are people who are either magical themselves or ordinary people who seem to be, at least on some level, extraordinarily unhappy and unmagical, but improbably clear-eyed – King Haggard and Molly Grue being the two I’m really thinking of.

Towards the end of the story, there is a talking skeleton atop the mantel in the great hall that Schmendrick tricks into revealing the way to the Red Bull’s lair. He pretends to turn water into wine, drinking the water in process. The skeleton, most assuredly a drunk in his former life, expresses some eagerness at getting his hands on the “wine.” Schmendrick rightly points out that the skeleton is dead and that he can neither drink nor taste the wine.

 “But I remember,” the skeleton says in a dreamy, drooling voice.

So Schmendrick gives the skeleton the bottle which he happily accepts, guzzling the non-existent wine down. His cheeks turn red, and he seems truly pleased to have gotten his hands on “wine.” But there is no wine. It is only in his mind.

 What is reality, if it is only in our mind?

 To me, the message seems rather clear: There are people who create reality, the magical among us, and there are people who view it. Their view is only an interpretation, and it hardly makes them reliable narrators or observers.

Why is any of this important? Well, take a look at what is going on in our world today. There are people who create the reality we inhabit, and there are people who interpret it. There are magicians, and there are ordinary, non-magical folk. Muggles, if you will. The vast majority of us are Muggles.

I have wondered, at points, why seemingly stupid people – people I know, frankly, to be of fairly poor intellect – have great jobs, hot spouses, and are entrusted with way too much important information. The answer is relatively simple. They believe they are worthy of such things, and so they are. There is nothing more to it, actually. If you believe you are something, and you act as though you are that thing, do you not become it?

 This is real magic that literally any one of us can do right now. You can inhabit a mode of being, and before too long, that will become your being.

Where does that leave us with talking about something and having it appear or writing something down and having it come to pass? Well, my personal feeling on the matter is that eventually or sometimes suddenly, the universe or the algorithm or whatever it is will bend to your will. Sometimes it takes time, and it most certainly takes practice and focus, but if I think if you allow for the possibility that it will happen, well, it very likely will. But you have to believe in it. And if you don’t believe in it – I’m thinking of taking steps to change your life, in this case – you have to repeat it until it starts to come true.

I hope you have found my spooky little tale and my interpretation of an 80s favorite to be somewhat useful to you, if not in your personal life then perhaps in your interpretation of the world – politics or what-have-you. I like to think I often see things rather differently than most people do. It hasn’t been of any particular benefit to me, honestly. I’m more Schmendrick than anything else, at this point, although eventually Schmendrick does go on to become a great magician. It just takes him some time and, frankly, belief.

“One day, the power will come to me whenever I need it, and one day, one day it will come to me when I call.”