— Long Version —

Does the universe actually send us signs?shake it up baby

I really don’t know. I’m a believer in science, and as far as I know, scientists haven’t discovered the universe actually communicating with individuals (aside from the occasional strike of lightning to the head, and that piece of toast that had Jay Leno’s face burnt into it).

So no, we haven’t found tangible evidence of the universe sending humans messages—yet. But when it comes to unexplained phenomena, I like to keep in mind that it was several thousand years of human civilization before we knew about radio waves and x-rays—two invisible forces in the universe that fly through the air and convey amazing things to humans.

Kind of like trees—which also on occasion fly through the air and do amazing things to humans. Like, if the human is lucky, giving his life a nice healthy shaking-up.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you must not have been reading my column for the past two months. In which case, may the universe fling a tree at you! But in a good way, of course.

Because as it turns out, that does happen: sometimes the universe flings a tree at you, in a good way.

I didn’t think it was so great when it happened to me in February, and I had to spend all of March in my “universe-messaged” house searching for a new place, which I moved into in April. But now that I have to leave that new place also and will be moving out this May and into another new place in June, I’m feeling pretty good about the whole situation.

That’s what’s known as the double shake-up—a natural phenomenon so complex and mysterious that some scientists believe it might only exist as temporary fictional creation for the purposes of me telling this story. (But let’s not forget, those bozos missed out on radio for 6,000 years.)

Since the scientists are too scared to touch it, I’ll be the one to explain how the double shake-up works. You should be fine as long as you stay behind that protective shield over there.

The double shake-up starts with an entrenched subject—a person who has gotten used to where they are, who has worked to establish a level of comfort and familiarity such that, should it be taken away, they would be pretty damn bummed and discombobulated. (Sorry for all the scientific jargon; try to bear with me.)

Then the universe drops a tree or something on him. Not hard enough to kill – just hard enough to do lots of damage and put a conclusive end to all that comfort, familiarity, and entrenchment.

This is the first shake-up.

The subject at this point becomes a big stinky whiner for a while. He or she may utter things like “Buuut I don’t wannnna leave!” or “I’ve spent so much time on this place!“ or “Waaaaaaa! Mommy!”

After the dust settles, the subject will most likely attempt to get back to the way things were—to reestablish the status quo. But the first shake-up has made that impossible. The status quo that was can not be recreated, and instead the subject must begin anew.

In 99% of cases, the subject will “begin anew” by trying to reenact or replicate as many aspects of his prior comfortable situation as possible. He may even begin to see the first shake-up as an opportunity to “upgrade” the old status quo by building some improvements into his new “status quo 2.0” situation. “It will be just like before – but better!” is a common utterance among subjects at this stage of the process.

During the rebuilding stage, the subject goes through an important transformation called “the demolecularization of stuff”, which in layman’s terms goes like this: he has to sort all his shit into boxes, and then lug it somewhere else and unpack it all again.

This fascinating process of breakdown and reunification can’t help but provoke a similar response within the subject himself, as he is forced to reevaluate all the material elements of his life, piece by piece.

As a result, when the subject begins again at a new place, all (or nearly all) of the physical and related emotional connectors that once held him in place have been disrupted.

New ties will begin forming right away however, and as mentioned before, most subjects will proceed immediately in trying to re-establish a version of the prior status quo—and to re-cement the familiar bonds and fixtures that help ground them in their new place.

That’s when it’s time for shake-up number two.

This is where things get interesting.

There is a period of time—around two weeks, though it varies—when the subject, whom we’ll call the “poor dude” at this point, is still trying to remolecularize all his boxes of crap, and un-disrupt his connectors and stuff. (I know, more science-talk, but hold steady, we’re almost through.)

What my colleagues and I have found, is that if the subjects finish that “re-assembly” process, then they do most often tend to go on to create a slightly-modified version of their prior status quo.

But if instead, the subject is hit with a second major shake-up during that time of loosened ties…like say, if the poor dude’s new rental home gets foreclosed on within days of him moving in…then all bets are off.

Actually, even in such a disassembled state, the subject will still instinctively seek to protect—and failing that, to recreate—the “status quo”. But due to shake-up #1, there simply is no status quo to reference or try to reproduce.

There’s no “normal” to replicate, because the old normal has been distilled down to its elements and poured into boxes—and the new normal is for all intents and purposes only “penciled in”. The previous whiny attachments to comfort and familiarity have long since been broken down, and while new attachments form quickly, they don’t have anywhere near the strength of the old established ties. As a result, the second shake-up is much more likely to produce a radical reshuffling of the subject’s life.

Since the full “double shake-up” only occurs in the wild, our clinical observations of this stage are limited. But based on anecdotal evidence, we know that some “poor dudes”—at least one that we know of, let’s put it that way—may experience the universe showing up at that very moment with a pretty fat buyout offer from the foreclosing bank, which wants to get all the pesky tenants out ASAP so it can do a scientific procedure called “The Old Flipperooni”.

Our studies have shown it’s highly probable that a dude placed in those circumstances might decide to do something fairly crazy and huge—not attempting to recreate the status quo, but instead taking a giant leap into something new, both physically and mentally. Like moving to Southern California, for example, to pursue the subject’s long-stated-but-little-pursued dream of becoming a screenwriter and filmmaker. (A leap he wasn’t quite ready for after the tree-based shake-up, though he did consider it. For example.)

Thus we see the full transformative power of the fabled “double shake-up”. It can be demonstrated in equation form as follows:

Shake-up #1    +    (Shake-up #2   +   Fat Bank Check)   =   Lance moving to L.A.!!!


— Short Version —

I’m moving to L.A.!!!


Lance Brown can be found at http://lancebrown.org. Archives of his column can be found here.