Saturday, April 21, 2007

Dreaming up parallel universes

I usually remember at least the dream immediately before waking, and I want to ponder the one I had this morning. Here's a summary:

My children were still young enough to be living with me and visiting their father and his wife on weekends. My mother was still alive and I was still in college, though it wasn't clear which one (I have two degrees). Mother had apparently intercepted mail to me -- or else mail from the school was sent to the "mother of the student" and she should have told me about it. I was in danger of failing my classes because I hadn't turned in some homework I was supposed to do. I felt fearful about failing my classes, knowing that I hadn't done the work, but not knowing I was in trouble about it -- because Mother hadn't warned me I'd better hurry and get the work done -- and angry at her that she had told my ex-husband and his wife and even my young children, who didn't need to be worried about that. I was frustrated and almost tearful that Mother would betray me like that. Even worse was that because of my failure to do what I should have, My ex-husband's wife was wanting me to sign over something -- it seems like it was my house and everything in it. I kept saying "no" and remember once shouting, "Over my dead body!" There was no way I was going to let her have all my things. I was trying to keep all of them away from my stuff, and at the same time I was trying to get away from their presence as they (including Mother) continued to harrass me. They wouldn't leave me alone.

I've been thinking lately about where dreams come from and have decided, after so many dreams like this that almost seem possible, that maybe dreams are a glimpse into my own life in a parallel universe. If every possible thing that COULD happen DOES happen, maybe my dreams show me what might have been. Say that, in this life I made one choice when presented with options, but in another universe I made another choice; to follow out each sequence would take two universes. However, in each of those universes the next decision made would double the possible universes. Within a very short time there would be innumerable universes. While I'm making decisions, so are you, thus increasing the number of universes it would take to show the various paths that would ensue:
Because I decided THIS, you did THIS.
Because I decided THAT, you did THAT.
But maybe when I decided THIS, you did THAT.
And maybe when I decided THAT, you did THIS.
Now count the parallel universes! Since you and I aren't the only ones making decisions, multiply the number of universes by the number of people in the world times the number of decisions. And make that the number of people who have ever lived, plus every choice that could possibly be made in all time. We might as well say the possibilities are infinite.

Richard Bach, who wrote Jonathan Livingstone Seagull (1970), also wrote a fascinating little book titled simply One (1988). It's called a novel, I think, because nobody would believe it could be serious. Under the spell of quantum physics, Bach and his wife Leslie are catapulted into an alternate world in which they exist simultaneously in many different incarnations. What if we could meet the people we are destined to be in twenty years? What if we could confront the people we were in the past, and those we are right now in parallel lifetimes, in alternate worlds?

When I found and read this book, I was so glad to see I wasn't the only person on earth who actually spends time thinking of weird things like this!  I recommend this book and rate it 9 out of 10.

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