Thursday, April 19, 2012

Time travel...

I've been watching the new show Awake. It's a really interesting concept. There is a man who was in a horrible car accident and now he is living two lives. In one his wife survived the crash in the other his son. Basically he goes to sleep in one world and wakes up in the other. The problem I am having is that as soon as the show started you start trying to figure out which world is "real". And eventually there will have to be a reality. Because we all know that's how the world works. Though the character on the show doesn't want that. He says it best when he tells his psychiatrists (he has one in each world) that this works for him. He doesn't want to have to choose because as soon as he does he loses either his wife or his son. Right now he has both.

So today while I was cleaning house my mind started puzzling over the show and then wandered off on to real world examples of choices and how they effective everyone else. See in the show when he finally decides on a world not only will he lose either his wife or his son but he will lose an entire other reality. He is a cop and has a different partner in each reality. He has two different psychiatrists, two different lives completely. And his choice will make all of that reality go away. Now there is the room to debate on if it's not real in the first place then does it matter? But that's probably more than my brain can handle.

Wouldn't it be interesting if you could do that in your life? If you could just see how another choice would pan out? Brent and I have talked about this a lot. Getting married as young as we did and him going in the Navy right away were the choices we made. But we have wondered what it would have been like if we had gone to school instead. Did the more traditional college route. Then gotten Jobs instead of jobs and then gotten married and had C. Would it all have worked out the same way anyway? He is pretty sure that no matter what path we had started down after graduation it would have ended with us married and having C. I am pretty sure that he would have left me for a cutie college co-ed with money. Kidding.

But I still wonder how our choices affected everyone else. When Brent and I started dating I did probably the worst thing I had ever done to someone. I forgot they existed. Brent and I started going together over Thanksgiving weekend our senior year.  Going together was 80s vernacular for going steady.  Dating just each other. Being a couple. Anyway, we got together that weekend after briefly going out the month before. I had thought he didn't want to date, he had thought I didn't want to date, much hilarity ensued including me fixing him up with someone else and me starting to date someone else myself. But when we realized that we wanted to date each other that was it, we did. And we were a couple. In school on Monday morning sitting in Western Civ a friend said, "I heard you and Brent are going together now, congratulations." I said thanks and then the worst thing I had ever done hit home.  The boy sitting in front of me turned around and said, "I guess this means we aren't going out on Friday?" Oh my gosh...I had totally forgotten I had a date with him. I had totally forgotten him all together. How do you even start to apologize for that?

Fast forward ten years to our high school reunion. I am talking to that boy, now a grown man of course, and he says to me, "I am really glad to see that you and Brent are still together. It's nice to know that it was inevitable, you were just meant to be." So yeah, he remembered and yeah, it was an awful thing to do to someone. Now I wondered at the time what he would have said if Brent and I weren't together.  Would he have smarted off and said, "I guess you should have kept that date!" And today while I was thinking of the TV show I wondered what would have happened if he could have looked at a different reality? If he could have seen what his world would have been like if I hadn't started dating Brent and I had kept that date. My choice had as much of a ramification in his life as it did in mine. I ended up with the man that made me forget that I had a date with someone else. That I ended up married to and having my son with and living my life with and am still with 26 years later. But what happened differently in his life? Well, he started dating someone else and she was pregnant by graduation. How is that for a life changing event?

At the time nobody was sure if it was his or if it was someone else's and he just stayed because he was that sort of nice guy. I didn't ask at the time because we weren't really talking, as you can imagine things were a little awkward between us after I forgot about his very existence. I wanted to ask at the reunion, but before I could figure out how to his current wife came and took him to talk to other people. She had also gone to school with us and wasn't my biggest fan. I can understand that, I wouldn't like someone who had treated Brent that shabbily either. But it makes you wonder. I like the choice I made for me. But what would it have meant for him if I had done it differently? If Brent and I hadn't started dating that weekend? What would that reality look like? And would he choose it if he could? Now there is no way that I would have been "the one" in his life or he in mine, I would have eventually started dating Brent anyway, but it would have changed the trajectory that ended with him and a pregnant girlfriend.

Then I thought of a friend who had a choice made for her like that. She and another woman were up for a position. They were both very qualified but the other woman was hired. She had some sort of in at the company and they felt like they needed to honor that. My friend had really wanted the position and was upset at the choice that was made, but she rallied. She changed gears and focused on another area and found her contentment there. So then I wondered, what would happen if she ran in to the woman who got the job she wanted and found out that she had never wanted it in the first place? (yes, this is how my mind works, I was cleaning house, it's boring, you have to think of something!) Can you imagine? Say, five years down the road you are getting coffee and you see her, your nemesis! And you go to talk to her and see how your dream job worked out for her, and you find out that she's no longer with the company.  Worse than that she knew when she took the job that she really didn't want it, she just felt like she should want it so she took it.

Would you like to be able to look at the alternate timeline at that point? You know that what you did worked out for you in the end, but what about what you didn't do? What you couldn't do because someone else made that choice? Would you want to see what that looked like and be able to choose? To keep the life you forged for yourself in your new work or be able to choose where your life ended up leading you if you had gotten the other job? Her choice to take that job that she never even wanted changed your world.

So as my mind wandered from real world examples to more and more far fetched what ifs I realized that the time travel game wouldn't be any good for anyone. It would be like the show. Once you made the choice you would lose. If you could look at two different jobs, you would have two different career goals and if you were successful in both which would you choose? Or if you had friends at both jobs how would you decide who to keep and who to forget? Because you would know while making the choice that you would be leaving them to disappear, to have never existed. I think you would end up like the man on the show, torn between the two worlds knowing that you didn't want to make the choice.  That no matter what you did you would lose. I'm not sure how they are gong to handle this on the show...and since it hasn't been renewed yet for next year I might never find out.

Unless I could somehow get a peek at a timeline that had the show renewed....

1 comment:

  1. What an awesome post! I hope that show comes on Netflix at some point. Sounds like it would be right up my alley!