I’m intrigued by the idea of critical points in our own personal timeline, the moments at which our own decisions or actions profoundly change it. What if I’d turned left instead of right? Would my life have been totally different, or is my destiny inescapable? In some other universe, or set of universes, did I learn to fly and am I living a different life?

For example, when I was in college, I wanted to do something technical. Math is not my strong suit, though, and after a couple of quarters I decided engineering wasn’t for me and decided on technical writing instead. (Blech!) What if I’d decided to stick with it instead, and become an engineer or architect? Would I have ended up a project manager anyway, since I’m wired as an organizer?

On a more personal level, what if I’d had more confidence about men, and not married the first one I seriously dated? This is the man who is now my ex, but is also the father of my children. It was a disastrous, painful, humbling marriage that cost me my faith and much of my sanity. Would I have chosen someone else equally as problematic? Did life need to teach me those lessons to grow and have compassion? I certainly adore and am fiercely proud of my sons, and am grateful for having them in my life.

And later, what if I hadn’t come to Alaska to meet Bryan? Would I have met him somewhere else through chance or intention? Could I have met him earlier in college? Or in Portland, or on a vacation to Alaska? Or could I have found someone else who loved me as wonderfully, and made a life with that person instead?

Our lives are a sum total of moments in time, some of which we experience passively and some of which we define by our choices. What if there are an infinite number of choice-defined universes out there, each containing different versions of me and of everyone else? Are we somehow aware of those dual, triple, multiple choices at some level? Do they create tension and conflict in our subconscious? Are these other paths happier? Sadder? Saner? Do they have taxes and universal health care?

I can only live in this universe, with the choices I’ve made, though, and do my best to learn from each one and grow from each experience I’m given.

7 Responses to “Multiverses”

  1. MWT Says:

    Heh, interesting that you post this right as I just posted mine, about standing in front of a critical point.

  2. Anne C. Says:

    I do feel like I can feel the proximity of those other ‘verses. It’s probably my imagination, but sometimes, when I am held up by a traffic light or choose to take one path to a destination over another, a light goes off in my head that says “did something different happen if I chose to go straight instead of turning right?”

    If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend seeing Sliding Doors, a small scale film with Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah. It’s one of my favorite movies and posits just the theories you cite above.

  3. WendyB_09 Says:

    Ah yes, I was reminded of the same yesterday. If my husband were still alive it would have been our wedding anniversary.

    What if we’d never met, never married, if I’d made different choices 20 years ago after his death.

    Considering everything I’ve been through the last few years I requently ponder that and wonder…Where would I be now if I’d chosen another path?

  4. Dr. Phil Says:

    I really liked Sliding Doors — so easy to judge at the beginning or the end which is the better life. (grin) I have to believe in serendipity — whether it’s of the “things happen for a reason” or if you dither and wander long enough that, as my father would say, “you fall into a pile of shit.” (he meant that in a good way)

    When things are going great and/or you’re really busy, crossroads can just fly by. You have to be downshifted and slowed down to decide whether to take a turn or not. But odds are, divergent paths in the past are unlikely to converge to the same place in the future.

    I think the meter ran out on my two cents.

    Dr. Phil

  5. Jeri Says:

    Anne, I think I may have watched Sliding Doors. Not sure. Something along those lines anyway… I’ll have to check it out, if I remember it that poorly.

    Wendy, I am actually more bothered by my anniversary w/ my ex than w/ Bryan. I think it’s because the last is at least bittersweet. I’m thinking I don’t want any more anniversaries to fret over. LOL

  6. Jeri Says:

    Phil, I’m happy to keep plugging the meter as long as you’re willing to contribute. ;)

  7. mattw Says:

    I think about that all the time. There’s the fantastical line of thought: in another universe, I have super powers.

    Then there’s the realistic line of reasoning. If my parent’s had moved when I was in high school like they intended, I would have gone to a different school, Brandi and I wouldn’t have met, I wouldn’t have worked at the magazine, wouldn’t have eventually moved on to the library, wouldn’t have my kids.

    Most often, I think that in that other universe, I would be kind of just drifting from one thing to the other, probably would have ended up career retail *shudder* and would either still be living with my parents or would be in an apartment somewhere with a high school buddy with not a whole lot going on between the two of us. That kind of thinking gets me a little depressed.

    While I’d like to believe there’s a multiverse out there affected by various decisions, it comes to the point when thinking about that does me no good and I have to get back to my own reality.

    There’s a great Nova documentary (Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives) about parallel universes and the physicist that came up with the parallel universe theory. His son is the lead singer of one of my all time favorite bands, The Eels, and the son goes on a journey of discovery about his father, who he hardly knew, and his father’s work, which he knew little about. Not only is it an interesting documentary, but it does a good job of marrying Eels music with Mark Everett’s search. I highly recommend it. Hmmmm. Maybe I need to check that out from the library again.