Have you ever felt that you were living in an alternative timeline?
Alternative timelines are a common theme in science fiction literature. They are also a common theme in everyday human musings. Every time we ask ourselves “what if?” we are exploring a potentially different timeline.
Most folks tend to look at the past with their “what ifs” in the form of “if only I had…”. We call that regret. Many folks create imaginary futures by fantasizing about different circumstances magically occurring in their lives. Getting that perfect partner or winning that lottery. We call that daydreaming.
However, alternative timelines are not just imaginings of speculative fiction or wistful longings of dissatisfied people. Social scientists, futurists and physicists all think seriously about the concept of multiple future timelines.
One very common theory is that every time we, as individuals or as a species, make a definitive choice, we actually create a different timeline that branches off from the path we are currently following; and that new timeline co-exists simultaneously with the one that exists without having made that different choice.
Whether or not multiple timelines exist simultaneously is subordinate to the fact that our choice points lead to our experienced reality. The choices we made in our yesterdays have led to the experiences we have today; and the choices we make today will lead to the experiences we have in our tomorrows.
Stretching out in front of each of us as individuals, and all of us who inhabit Planet Earth, are a variety of timelines. These are our potential futures, alternate pathways forward.
Some of these potential pathways lead to self-actualization for those individuals who travel them and some lead to existential wastelands. Some lead to ease and abundance. Some lead to strife and suffering.
Some of these potential, but as yet undetermined, timelines lead to an idealized future of peace and prosperity. Some lead to war, deprivation and degradation. Some lead to living in harmony with and on Planet Earth. Some lead to ecological collapse and a dystopian future.
Given the choice between living a life of abundance, personal fulfillment, meaning and purpose OR living a life of struggle, scarcity, angst and mediocrity… what would you choose?
I know that seems like a silly question… who after all would choose to be unhappy? And yet, studies by social scientists show that most people are indeed unhappy in their jobs, unsatisfied with their economic situation and feel like life is passing them by, leaving them generally dissatisfied.
Since we know that it is our past choices that have led to our current circumstances and our current choices will lead to our future circumstances: AND, if we are not particularly happy with the circumstances we have right now in our lives, then two things become clear: first, that we must accept responsibility for where we are at, and second, that if we wish for things to improve or change, then it is apparent that we ourselves must change.
If we want to diverge from the current timeline that is not fulfilling our hopes and dreams, we must be prepared to change how and what we think, what we enact and how we interact in the world (the things we do) and perhaps most importantly, what we believe about ourselves and our place in the world.
When we choose to continue our habitual patterns of belief, thought and behaviour, we choose to continue the timeline we are following now. We are making the choice for a continuation of the circumstances we find our selves in right now. We are choosing to remain as a mere creature of event and circumstance. We are, in effect, choosing to be powerless.
When we choose to adopt new beliefs, new ways of thinking and behaving, we choose to branch off into a new and different timeline. We are making the choice for something different, an improved future. We are choosing to become creators of events and circumstances. We are choosing empowerment.
Each new day, in fact each present moment, provides each of us individually, and all of us collectively, with a fresh new opportunity to choose to live in a different timeline, to select a better future.
We cannot go back in time and fix those “if only I had…” choice points that led us to the the present we are experiencing right now; but, we can garner understanding from examining how our previous choices of belief, thought and action resulted in our current reality. We can then use that understanding to make new conscious choices that will cause a variance in the future we get to experience.