The Lathe of Heaven

Listening to Billy Collins read the poem The Revenant on the drive to the dog’s vet appointment this morning, I was reminded of how hard it is when a pet dies. And as thoughts are bound to wander while listening to a former US poet laureate recite his poems, my thoughts meandered to the premise of The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin.

In The Lathe of Heaven, the protagonist can change reality by “effectively dreaming.” Dreams or nightmares become real.

I wondered where, what, and how would I handle the dog if I needed to prepare for a hurricane. I just don’t know, and I hope I never find out. He would be an accessory to bigger problems.

And I thought of Puerto Rico. Overnight it became a nightmare.  Life up-ended.  They have prepared for hurricanes before and (my guess) is that things return to normal in a humane amount of time. Prepare. Hunker down. We’ve been through this before. We’ll get through it again.

But this time the lathe of heaven turned. A month later? Still no power. The new normal is not normal. A very dark island. Life took a turn for the worse. Return to normal in a humane amount of time? If only ‘humane’ was in Prescedense Trump’s vocabulary. We’re pretty sure ‘normal’ isn’t.


Today I reflect on my good fortune that my own lifelong story arc has been consistent and measured improvement. Internet speeds? Check. Especially since there was no internet when I was a kid.  Only bunny ears. (See also first world problems.)

Through seasons, through the years, the landscape where I live may be modified, but it has remained intact. Food? Check . Grocery stores are stocked. Potable tap water? Check. Electrification of anything I need? A plug away, check.  If I need it, I can get it.

The Puerto Rican experience? I just don’t know, and I hope I never find out.