Sunday, March 13, 2005


I once thought of writing a book called My Alternative Lives, using the conventions of space fiction, some of whose ideas are the same as those on the frontiers of physics. But the plot here would be that the lives of the doctor, the animal doctor, the farmer, the explorer would run concurrently with my life, set in other parallel universes or 'realities', continually influencing mine. As in those cases of multiple personalities, where only slowly do the personalities inside a woman or man become aware of each other, the heroine of this book -- me for argument's sake-- would slowly come to know that multiples of herself are living these other lives...

-- Doris Lessing,
Under My Skin

Aha! So Lessing voices something I've always suspected, that physicists are also now starting to toy with, this notion of parallel universes, parallel lives.

For example: Let's just say that you went to the high school downtown rather than the one closest to you. The moment, the instant you made that decision, another, divergent path of your life opened up. There was, in effect, two of you, travelling parallel paths that never meet.

But it could be more than that.

The you that chose chocolate ice cream over vanilla. The you that went to the dance versus the you that stayed home and watched Perfect Strangers. The you that decided to stay in high school a year longer because you were a young, pimple-faced, scared little kid who didn't know what to do in life (and still don't -- welcome to the club.)

What if, at each and every moment, we split, diverge, separate into alternate selves in alternate universes? This could be a comforting notion; soothing, even. It means that that which we have lost is not really lost at all, just diverted to a different stream of space and time. It means that our unfulfilled dreams have in fact, been fulfilled -- just by a different edition of ourselves.

Maybe our lives are like those soap-bubble thingees we played with as kids, where you dip the ring into the gloop, hold the hole up to your lips, and blow out the bubble. What begins as one big bubble soon, almost instantly, multiplies into more and more. All different, all originating from the same source.

And who knows? Maybe right now there's another version of myself discounting this same theory, in another blog, in another realm.

And maybe one day we'll be able to meet.


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