Parallel Universes

When I was younger and much more earnest, I read the book One, by Richard Bach. I’m sure I wouldn’t be quite as influenced by it now, but it was impactful then. It made my fertile imagination run wild.

The book is about quantum physics and parallel universes. It talks about how each choice you make causes your existence to split off like the branches of a tree. If you decide to get a divorce, in another universe you remain happily married. In yet another, you remain married, but are miserable. Believe it or not, I take a lot of comfort from this.

For example: Applying for a job? Nervous? Not to worry. There will always be at least one universe in which you get that job. Fingers crossed that you happen to be in the right universe this time around.

I must admit I apply this principle to romance more than anything else. My love life may be nonexistent, but if I lock eyes with someone, I can tell myself that in at least one universe, that guy will have seen me for the amazing person that I am, and he, too, will be amazing, and we’ll live happily ever after. So I’m sort of having many, MANY successful relationships right now. Just… not in this universe.

So, three cheers for quantum physics! Or no cheers at all. In this context, it hardly matters, does it? Somewhere, I’m cheering.

richard-bach

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Fantasy Island

I just got through reading an article on the NPR website entitled, “Pacific Island, Bigger Than Manhattan, Vanishes.” I assumed it was going to be about global warming, and that maybe it had sunk below the rising sea level, but no. Based upon studies of the sea floor, this island never existed in the first place. Apparently this “island” has been on maps and charts since around 1772. And now they’re looking at other questionable islands in other parts of the world in order to update maps.

fantasy_island_by_tessig-d4w7qz5 (Credit: Tessig.deviantart.com)

Can we just take a second to absorb this? In this day and age, with all our global whosawhatsis, how does this happen? It makes you realize how vast the world is, and how much we want to believe what we’re told. But I still find it vaguely unsettling. If we can’t count on our geography, what can we count on?

Here’s the thing. When my mother died when I was 26, I felt as though there was no longer any solid foundation beneath my feet, as though everything that I counted on had suddenly vanished and I was adrift. It took me a long time to get over that. A very long time. I will never forget that feeling.

Without getting into a debate about quantum physics, we count on things to be solid, to have substance. And we expect islands the size of Manhattan to stick around. This is why I could never live in an earthquake zone. To have something solid suddenly start rippling like water? I’d have a nervous breakdown.

There has to be some fundamental…thing that you can hang your hat on, and build from there. Without that, how do you know what’s real? It reminds me of a quote from the Spanish dramatist Pedro Calderón de la Barca, which translates as, “Life is a dream, and even the dreams are dreams.”