Alternate reality mind games

I like to imagine the existence of alternate realities, especially in relation to my own life. Many times, it give me hope.

I don’t like to think that alternate realities spin off of every decision, like a new reality coming into existence because I decided to have a grilled cheese sandwich with my cup of soup rather than not having the sandwich. While I allow that such a thing might happen, it does boggle the mind too much to think about.

I do, however, like to think that there might be an alternate reality me who liked to take the highway to work rather than the country road I often drove. I figure I lost a total of 6,000 hours just in commute time over my 20+ years. I’m hoping that she did something worthwhile with the approximately 20 minutes she gained back each day. She could have had 1,700 more hours at home than I did.

I wonder what would’ve happened in my life if I’d stayed in Nevada and gone to university there. Or not married the man I knew to be unfaithful before I said, “I do.” (What the hell was I thinking? No, don’t answer that. I wasn’t thinking. I was in love with who I wanted him to be rather than who he was.) I like to think that major pivotal moments such as these are what causes the breaks.

I hope there is a version out there who is successful in every avenue I wanted to explore, from a successful marriage (not to the man I did marry, though maybe in another reality we did work it out — I doubt it though), to being a successful writer, or artist, or archeologist, or animator, or photographer, or ghost hunter.

But I always figured these were spin-off versions of me. I do like the idea that we can draw power from each other too. However, recently, I’ve started to wonder if I’m the spin-off of some more successful version of myself. Am I the product of a decision another me made correctly and I am the bad decision? Yes, I do wonder that. Is there any hope for that reality or does it just fly hopelessly out of control and cast off more branches of a bad reality? Worse, is anyone on this planet a good version or are we all here being the rotten branches? Could we all be poisoned from our alternate reality decisions? Or is there a mixture of alternate reality versions like overlapping trees in a forest where you don’t know which branch in the canopy overhead belongs to which tree?

Now I know there are also decision that would have been worse if I’d made them, like deciding to stay forever in the small town where I grew up. That would suffocate me for certain. Or possibly moving to southern California to write for them soap operas like my mom suggested I do. (Maybe — I might have been swimming more and stayed in great shape, so I suppose that could also go on the more successful version of me side too. Or maybe I got eaten by a shark while I was swimming in the ocean. I do already think I missed this fate, though I don’t like to talk about it much because thinking about it scares me a bit. Or maybe I liked the ocean so much I decided to move someone more tropical. See, I do think about this way too much.)

This is a good game for writers to play since a lot of developing a character comes from the question of “Who would I be if…?” and then you fill in the blank. Who would I be if I’d moved to southern California to try to be a movie star and moved back home when I failed? Who would I be if I’d decided to take a vacation to Seattle and found the companion of my dreams? Who would I be if I’d decided to move to Nashville? Who would I be if I’d been born in Pennsylvania? All great questions that become the basis for characters.

So, do you imagine yourself as alternate reality versions? Are you the best version of yourself? If not, what do you think your best version is doing? Is there an alternate reality that would be worse?

Or is it just me that plays these mind games?