I interrupt this blog post to wish my friend and sister in snark Marni from The Chronicles of Marnia a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Okay, go ahead Billy…
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The C always showed up on my report card for my science classes. I was neither interested nor gifted in that area of study. And those Cs always bothered me. It meant I was neither great nor awful, just right in the meaty part of average. I hated that. I hated science.
But now I’m thinking differently. Science may well be on its way to solving a lot of what’s been bothering me over the years, especially when it comes to the IfI’da Principle.
I’ve suffered with this condition for quite a while.
As near I can tell, it began in the fourth grade and involved the Lorie, the pretty brunette who sat in front of me. My first true crush. Since I was hopelessly inept in all things romantic, my true feelings went unsaid. She was snatched away from me on the playground by another boy in another class. And I remember sitting there with a kickball in my hand thinking, If would have said something first, maybe I’d be holding her hand right now.
There are other instances. There was the time in high school when I struck out with the bases loaded in the state championship baseball game, the first time I’d struck out all year. And also the high school dance when I tripped over a microphone wire and spilled punch on my date. There was my decision not to go to college, too.
Of course I don’t wonder only about the things that went wrong. I wonder of the good things, too—of my decision to start writing, of falling in love once and for all, and of my kids. In each case I’ve caught myself at some point wondering the same thing:
If I would have made a different decision or acted a different way, how would my life have worked out?
Over the years that question has been pared down to the bare essentials. “If I would have” became “If I’d have,” which became “IfI’da.”
As in, What would have happened IfI’da?
By and large our lives are not shaped by the jobs we have or the people we surround ourselves with. They are instead the product of an endless line of the small and large choices that we’ve made every moment of every day from our beginning until this moment. Decisions more than destiny determine our lot in life. I really do believe that. Our genes, our upbringing, and our faith can either prop us up or knock us down, but in the end our lives are still our own. Though I believe God to be utterly unsurprised at where I am and where I’ll be, I like to think I’ve come this way by His guidance and my own choices rather than pulled along by the hand of fate.
If I happen to be wrong with all of that, I’ll gladly say so. But if I’m right, then that means the decisions I make every day are pretty important things. Maybe the biggest things. Even the smallest acts can have lasting consequences, both good and bad. Which leads to a great deal of wondering on my part..
Which is where science comes in.
It’s called The Multiverse Theory of Quantum Physics. Dumbed down so I can understand it, the theory goes something like this: each choice we make in life creates an entirely separate universe in which the opposite choice was made. Which means that everything that can happen has happened somewhere.
I’m wondering about all those other me’s out there. Wondering what they’re doing, who they are. And most importantly, if they’re happier than I am.
In some other universe there is a Billy Coffey who confessed his love to Lorie in the third grade, who did not trip over that microphone wire, and who did not strike out with the bases loaded.
He sounds like a good guy. Like a guy who’s got it together.
But I suppose there is another me somewhere out there who has it much worse than I. A Billy Coffey whose choices were much poorer and resulted in much more regret than my own. I think of him, too.
All of this has brought a much-needed sense of balance to my existence. There may in fact be other me’s out there better and more well-adjusted. But if that’s true, then there are other me’s who are not.
Which may well mean that in all the universes in existence, I occupy the meaty part of average. Neither great nor awful.
I can live with that.
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