Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jealous of Myself

I'm a solid 10 years older than my sister, Eva. When I was a teenager, she was in elementary school, and she thought I was the coolest guy on the planet. Truly, there's no accounting for taste, but at that age, she wanted to play with me all the time. I had two tactics that I employed in order to continue doing what I wanted, and still placate her. For example, if I was playing Zelda when she wanted to play, I'd ask her to "help" me play the video game. I had a saved file for just such occasions. I'd open it, and she'd narrate what she wanted Link to do, and where she wanted him to go, all the while, I'd be providing helpful clues and doing all the actual game playing. Truthfully, she was too young to be able to handle the game on her own, at least not without a lot of help and explanation, but this way, we both got what we wanted.

The only worse time for her to want to play was at 6:00 or 10:00pm, central standard time, because those were the hours, that my favorite show aired -- Star Trek, The Next Generation. I became a fan in the later seasons of TNG, so I wasn't able to watch original run episodes for very long, but they played in order in syndication. I convinced my sister that the show was called Pretty Pretty Princess, and that Counselor Deanna Troi was the main character - a princess, lost in space, trying to find two things: her prince and her home. My sister bought it hook, line, and warp drive. So whenever she'd want to play while I was watching, I'd be able to easily convince her to join me and watch what kinds of adventures the princess and her friends had gotten into.

As you can tell, I'm a Sci-Fi fan. I love the genre. Not enough to be called a "buff", but certainly enough to be called a geek. I've always had an extremely active imagination, and sci-fi is like a playground for the imagination. In the world of science fiction, man travels at great speeds to distant planets, traverses the depths of our oceans, discovering lost and ancient mysteries, & traipses through time, hoping to not upset the timeline.

One of my favorite sci-fi ideas is the infinite universe theory.

This theory states that there are multiple and infinite alternate universes, in which everything that can happen, does, in one or another of them. Simply put - this morning, you may have had a couple of choices for breakfast: cereal, eggs, French toast, or to skip it altogether. If you chose eggs, the infinite universe theory states that in another universe, your life proceeded exactly as you've known it to, up until this morning, when the alternate you chose another breakfast item and his life is now forever on a path different than yours. That's the mundane part of the theory - there are some realities, in which there is nothing very divergent and therefore look very similar to the universe in which we live. However, the theory gets more exciting when you imagine a universe in which you had eggs for breakfast, but they were scrambled pteranodon eggs, which you stole from the nest of the beast that has tormented your neighborhood for many long years. Now it's getting a bit more exciting, right?

Sometimes, when I start to ponder the infinite universe theory, I begin to dream and get excited. You see, there's a version of me in an alternate universe that's in great shape - strong and ripped. There's a universe in which I'm independently wealthy, or a celebrated public figure, and one where I drive a Ferrari. There's a universe in which I have a better job, one that is satisfying and relevant; a universe in which my wife and I don't fight, where we have children, where I don't have asthma, eczema, or an astigmatism. And to top it all, there's the fact that there would be a universe out there where all of those things are true in the same reality - a universe where the grass is truly greener... and I can fly.

If I think on this long enough, I become jealous of myself - alternate me, rolling around in my money like Scrooge McDuck, then going for a quick fly around the city.

One thought helps to keep me grounded, however. You might think that it's the fact that we're talking about science fiction, and none of this is real... but that's not the thought. Remember, in this theory, there is a universe for every possible scenario imaginable, since the beginning of time. Ergo, there are undoubtedly universes in which I don't even exist - billions of them. And for every reality in which alternate-me is rich, famous, beautiful, and successful, there is another (or maybe more) in which he's poor, homeless, wretched, and diseased.

There are realities in which alterna-me is oppressed and tortured by a tyrannical government, sold into slavery from birth, or perhaps worst of all - unloved, alone, disrespected, and depressed.

That version of me is jealous of me. Compared to him, I've got it made. My life, even at it's worst, is his dream-like fantasy: a wife who loves me, family and friends who care for me, a home, a job, a car, a frige full of food, a closet full of clothes, freedom to live, love, speak, and worship as I choose.

He thinks my life is a dream.

The truly tragic part is that aside from marauding raptor-vikings, you don't have to go to an alternate dimension to experience some of those tragic injustices - homelessness, disease, oppression, persecution - you just have to leave your neighborhood. Our world has no shortage of tragic injustice. It's all around us. From human-trafficking in our own back yards, to poverty disease and oppression in other parts of the world, horror stories are alive and well, right here in our reality.

For those who live under those circumstances daily - they think your life is a dream.

So when my mind wanders into other dimensions, and I'm tempted to become jealous of myself, I remember some of the hardships others face in this reality, and I'm reminded of just how blessed my life really is.


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