I’ve recently finished a book called The Versions of Us, a title which sounded interesting enough to make me read the back cover, then buy it. There were three intercalated stories which actually related the same story, but, well, different versions of it. This article though is not going to be a book review – the book is just a background, a pretext to write, a mere inspiration for giving my thoughts some depth and direction.
A similar idea was written in some of my previous articles. One of them described multiple versions of me, but chronological versions, the ones you need to go through one by one – just as I explained here, such an event is called in computer science the depth first search, in which you just keep moving forward without looking left or right. But the opposite is called the breadth first search, in which all the possibilities are evaluated before taking the next step. And these versions of me, corresponding to breath first search, would be far more complicated that the chronological versions.
Back to the book, the two main characters are an aspiring painter and an aspiring writer, occupations which both require a large amount of creativity, and lots of patience and practice. But creativity and imagination are exactly what’s needed to have your mind wandering, in my case not to find answers for What if…? questions, but to find the questions themselves: which were the turning points in my life so far, what were the precise decisions which made me take this specific path in life?
The reason I’m not thinking about the answers, about different possible lives that I could be living, is that I don’t like being trapped in the past, nor in a future that will never happen. Not that it makes me sad to think about different versions, cause it doesn’t (or does it?), but it’s a bitter-sweet sensation, the kind that’s too strange to be classified as either sad or happy. Like this song here.
An alternative life was mentioned during a fantasy movie I was watching some time ago. Just a brief idea, but enough to make me think – and perhaps also make one of the guys I was watching it with, think. The main hero’s crush, which is, unfortunately for him, not a mutual crush, tells him something that sounds cliché but at the same time really profound: Maybe in a parallel universe we end up being together. And the worst thing was not watching the friendzoned hero’s sad eyes and sensing his broken heart, but knowing that the exact same situation was happening between two of the people whose eyes were silently glued to the screen.
So, yeah. I guess saying Yes instead of No is always a (major) change of events, a new opportunity which could push you on a whole different path in live. But no regrets means the right choice was made, I think. Cause that’s one thing that keeps us from being happy, regrets. Comparing ourselves with others and with other versions of us. Asking ourselves What if…? and then fantasising about a better path in life, when actually there’s no assurance that the current path is worse that the hypothetical one.
And the same happens about accepting an invitation to going out, to dinner, to a movie or whatever. In those seconds before answering, make sure you realise that, as strange as it may sound, that answer may push you away from a path and onto another. Choosing your high-school profile, your university course, your friends and job – anything is just another step on a specific path which will later form the current and authentic version of yourself – all the others are just possibilities that slowly disappear into time.
Of course, it is not always us who make the decision. Maybe the guy I never knew would have answered the way I thought I wanted him to. But that’s part of his versions, not mine, and unfortunately we can’t really know much about the versions of others that don’t involve us. Cause all the others around us have their own power of choice, and all the paths together create a spider web which is by itself so complex, that one shouldn’t even try to think about all the other versions of it…
What’s more, apart from the other persons there’s also something else that contributes to moving on a particular path: chance. There’s always a chance for something to happen, and some say that the more you fear it, the highest the chance for it to actually occur. And something such as unwanted pregnancy seems to be quite a major turning point into one’s life, so how can one not fear it?… (don’t worry, not a major book spoiler).
A situation when a complex life with lots of choices can be explored is… in computer games 🙂 Cause you can choose a path, or how to answer to someone, or not kill another character and then load the game and explore other possible versions of it. But you can’t really do that in real life, so you just have to live with whatever decisions you make, or do your best to move on a desired path.
Somehow thinking about this topic reminded me of the animated movie Hercules, or more specifically the sequence when he risks his life to save the girl from death, and becomes immortal – I still remember his life thread turning into a material that couldn’t be cut anymore. To be honest I’m not entirely sure how this relates to the rest of the article, but the idea is that we always have a choice for the overall life we’re living: our decisions, thoughts, how we act and react will define us, and in the end we’re just going to live the version of us that we shape ourselves.
Maybe another version of me was perfect for another version of you. Or is, or will be… Who knows?