That’s the number of ways this very moment is being experienced. Pretty amazing if you think about it, right?
While you’re reading this, someone else is just waking up. A child is being born (a child is probably also being conceived)… A woman is carrying water from a well. An athlete is training. A worker is catching a bus. A child is working in a sweatshop. A long distance couple are skyping each other before they go to sleep. You get the picture.
It’s perplexing and a little taxing, to me, that what you physically see is different to what I physically see. For instance, you never see yourself other than in pictures or a reflection. When looking at a mirror you might think you are as you see yourself. But not too long ago, it really sank in, that everything is, well, mirrored. E.g. I’m used to seeing my parting on the ‘right’ but it’s actually on the left. Maybe it’s just me overthinking how mirrors work. From birth to death, I’ll never see myself like how others see me!
(On the other hand, I think it’s astonishing that we all see different things and have different thoughts and characteristics about us. If we were all the same, would we have any creativity in our blood? What if, consequently, we built everything in our lives to match our personality? How would we appreciate art?)
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why it is often easier to see beauty in others; you’re looking through a different lens. You’re not the one who ‘sees’ and probably scrutinises them every day. I empathise with people who are critical and self-deprecating of themselves or their work. You have expectations, and if you fall short, it isn’t as satisfying. (And I’m quite a perfectionist. That part of me can be a real bummer.)
Anyway, the bigger point I wanted to stress here, was about alternate universes. Sidenote: I have a passion for reading fanfiction, including a well-written AU.
I’m by no means encouraging anyone to reflect on the consequences of their decisions and life chances with a heavy heart. I’m just going to illustrate the idea of alternate universes with a personal example.
I haven’t completely ruled the possibility of parallel universes out, but scientific theories to do with that are far too mind-boggling for me to begin to understand. I know it’s it not the same as an alternate universe, but the common denominator is that there’s another me – and another you. There’s countless ways our lives could’ve gone, all depending on how they commenced.
For example, would I still be academic if I came from a poorer background? I want to make it clear that I don’t think social class background necessarily determines someone’s educational career. I’m just going to point out the statistic that in England 2012/13, only 38.1% of pupils eligible for free school meals achieved 5 A*-C GCSEs compared to 64.8% of those who are not eligible. (source: via https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/jan/27/education-inequality-in-england-where-is-the-gap-widening-demos) To a large extent, I think it is due to the way the government runs the education system – I’ll go into more detail in a later blog post.
And in terms of my character, would I be the same person if I hadn’t moved house and schools as much as I did in this life? I doubt it. It’s really cool imagining an alternate universe where, for example, you grow up with a next-door-but-one best friend. However, I think everything happens for a reason. And the best but not always easiest way to be happy is to embrace the hand you’ve been dealt.
With regards to the nuances of life, perhaps it would be nice if a different version was written in the stars. Like erasing all those cringey moments that might keep you awake at night…
On a darker note, your alternate universe self could be in a much worse situation. Maybe you’re the 1 in 4 (or 1 in 6 for men – source: http://www.lwa.org.uk/understanding-abuse/statistics.htm) who are affected by domestic abuse in your lifetime.
Further towards the lighter extremes, maybe it would be exciting to be a hawk, or a walrus, or a gibbon in another world. Maybe you’re born as the opposite sex. Imagine that! If you’re a woman, on average, you can look forward to being paid less than a man! Wow! (There are a number of reasons which can explain this – also a topic for a future blog post.) To back this up, the full-time employee gender pay gap was at 9.4% in 2015. There’s good news though: it has been steadily decreasing over time. (Source: http://visual.ons.gov.uk/what-is-the-gender-pay-gap/)
Anyway, I like to imagine that in another universe, I attended an art college possibly, and went on to become a renowned artist, one who makes epic graphic novels and takes commissions.
Today’s song is Candyland by Tobu (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhchfhxvPKI). Another chirpy song, but this time without a singer. I recommend it when you’re in a good mood, or want cheering up 🙂
So what do you think of this conjecture? And what do you think you could be in an alternate universe?
NB: I’m aware the statistics I’ve cited are ethnocentric – I live in the UK and that’s the area I’ve studied the most, so it made sense to use these.
Notes: The featured image is not mine