Waking Up

Lon Chaney in The Phantom of the Opera, 1925. Photo source: g4tv.com.

Waking Up
By John Unger Zussman

In line for the tram at the Universal Studios tour, we filed past a statue of Lon Chaney in the old silent classic, Phantom of the Opera. It was lifelike in its detail—sunken eyes, jagged teeth, black cape. We admired it and passed it by.

A small crowd gradually arrived, waiting and chattering. A father and his small child stopped in front of the statue. The father began to explain who Lon Chaney was when, suddenly, the statue came alive, snarled, and swooped menacingly at the child. Everyone jumped back, startled, our hearts skipping a beat; so you can imagine the child’s terror, her scream piercing the waiting area.

The actor set down a tip jar, then turned to the girl and gave her a sweet. He cajoled her until, safe in her father’s arms, tears drying, she asked him how he could stand so still for so long. At that moment, the tram arrived. As we rode away, the actor reassumed his pose for his next victims.

Many years later, I have forgotten what else we saw at Universal Studios. But after witnessing stone turn to flesh, I understand what the physicists have been telling us. Matter is not as we perceive it. The world is a field of probabilities waiting to happen. And any object, no matter how inanimate or inert, might merely be awaiting its moment to awaken into life.

Copyright © 2010, John Unger Zussman. All rights reserved.

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