I learned last week (from an episode of Flash Forward, so take this with a grain of salt) that a lot of physicists believe in a theory that says that there are multiple universes out there, and that the life that would have resulted from every path we never chose is actually still out there somewhere being lived by another version of ourselves. This idea, that every possible outcome of every possible decision I ever made is alive and well in another universe, has stuck with me and I keep turning it over in my brain, imagining decisions both large and small and thinking about what those realities would look like. Somewhere there’s a Lauren whose best friend didn’t move away in grade eight, a Lauren who is married to a red-haired guy named John, a Lauren who is still working at Manulife, a Lauren who actually buckled down years ago and wrote a book and lost 20 pounds and started getting up much earlier in the morning.
I wonder, are those Laurens happier than this one? Sadder? Taller, maybe? And more adept at flipping a grilled cheese sandwich without causing the bread to go all cattywompus on her? (One can hope.) I guess that is one of the truly good things about the way our lives our structured: we rarely, if ever, have to be faced with the reality of all of the possible consequences of the decisions we’ve made, what it would look like if we swore things would be different and then followed through on it. Life’s not like a Choose Your Own Adventure book – you can’t cheat like I always did, flip ahead and pick the best of the two options – and we just get to see the one reality, the one we’re living, but for all we know, it is the best one, the healthiest and happiest and most worthy, of the thousands that are out there.