It seems, after all, that in this one we find ourselves together.
There is a theory in quantum physics called the many-worlds interpretation, which postulates the existence of an infinite number of alternate universes, each with a slight variation on past and each with multiple variations on future to come. It is the idea that everything that could have happened in this universe did happen in another, thereby denying the collapse of any given wave of potential in any given moment – and creating an infinite sequence of alternate realities defined by the could-haves and should-haves of here-and-now. Each is real, yet only one is known. This is ours.
For all its fantastical claims, the many-worlds theory is a real one among physicists – whose mental wrestling with the curiosities and impossibilities of the quantum world will likely persist for millennia (at least for those who find themselves in such fortunate futures). The root of the problem lies in the interaction between observer and reality, such that the world around us exists in a quantum state of potential until looked upon. It is at the moment of observation that reality divides, according to the many-worlds theory, and potentials branch out as newly born universes diverge.
And so I find myself here, with you, branches unknown and futures only dreamed upon. Had we a chance to see them all…
The realization that this one is ours is both satisfying and saddening. I don’t say this with regret in mind, but let’s be honest with ourselves: in this universe, Donald Trump is one step away from the presidency of the United States. I need not review my grievances here, for I know the moral and ethical branches on which my personal reality was born. Despite all its entertainment value, there is a true and deep sense of despair about the world that should be felt by this particular set of circumstances. I find myself disappointed, for I believed (perhaps naively) that our collective potential was something very different than it now appears. Racism, sexism, misogyny, discrimination, homophobia – as unacceptable as these things are, I have a realistic understanding of the progress that is to be made. But lying, cheating, bullying, and assault – these are thousand-year old problems that even the crassest of Christians claim to have overcome. The truth we are confronted with is that we are not as evolved as we believed. And that truth does not die with Clinton’s election; indeed the greatest potential for loss is in the aftermath. Should we simply return to our collective denial, then continue on the same old path we will.
The power in the many-worlds interpretation comes from the realization that it’s all possible. A future defined by rejection, rather than denial, of our greatest shortcomings is the future I would choose for us had I the chance. Yet the many-worlds theory need not be illustrated on such a grand scale, so let me consider the personal.
It has been some time since I’ve written on this blog. So much has happened, and so much has changed. The short version is that I fell in love with an old friend; we moved to an island, got married, and now enjoy our days dreaming of the future, playing with our puppy, and carving out our place in this world. The long version brings us somewhere closer to my point: A set of circumstances, many out of my control, coalesced in such a way that this branch of reality was born. Nearly two years ago now, I took a chance that I never saw myself taking before. He was scared, and so was I, but somehow the timing was right. There were a million moments, moments of observation and moments of decision and moments of hesitation. They all brought us to this place – a million worlds surely created in the process. To find contentment within the context of the many-worlds scenario is perhaps to find oneself in the version of reality that one would choose had he or she the choice. While I could not have dreamed up such a life for myself two years ago, I have found happiness and contentment in this particular quantum divergence that I never thought possible. Each day, as I wake up next to my best friend, I am reminded of the choices I’ve made that have led me down this path. Whether random, determined, or simply meaningfully aligned, this is one piece of reality I can take to the bank. This is the universe in which I have been found.
True happiness lies in the recognition that one’s existence is a beautiful thing – that one’s existence is enough. This is how one must cope with the many-worlds interpretation, for wasting energy on should-haves and could-haves is never wise. I have been blessed in the last two years of my life, but it has not been without its losses. Along the way, I had to say goodbye to one of my very best friends, someone who was a part of my life for over twelve years. As I continue down this path without him, I know that no branch is free of pain; no branch is free of despair. These are realities of all worlds, both near and far. It is perhaps in the understanding that this is but a single branch that some additional peace can be had. Somewhere, in some other existence, he’s very much alive, and I know him there too.
In our minds, all potentials exist. This is the gift of consciousness, and of imagination. Whether there is one world or many, I know the life that I have, and I know all those that I’ve relinquished too. Whether political or personal, the creation of all realities is right here, right now, unfolding with every stroke of the keyboard and every breath of the air.
We’re just a step away from the next, just an ebb away from the flow. In this world, we find ourselves together.