(This is a short flash fiction story that is me kinda trying to understand some heavy physics with no math skills.)
“From the viewpoint of the theory (‘Many Worlds Theory’), all elements of a superposition (all ‘branches’) are ‘actual’, none any more ‘real’ than the rest.” – Hugh Everett III
Like the fabled cat of Erwin Schrodinger, I sit quietly in my metaphorical box floating through space unsure if I have ever really lived or not. I am the sum total of my choices, but, in the grand totality of existence, not all of my decisions have brought me to this same place. In an endless universe of endless worlds, observed by me, I am both alive and dead, and everything in between.
I am just over a thousand worlds away before I begin to think there might be any real difference from the world I know. Maybe my lawn is a little bit greener. I weigh fractionally less than the me that I am right now.
Fourteen thousand five hundred and sixty-two worlds over and my car has newer tires. Something I should have done months ago.
I am thirty four thousand and seven hundred eighty-nine worlds out before I notice any substantive difference in my life. I work for a bigger company located in the city. I make more money, and the remodel at the house is completely done, instead of hanging persistently around unfinished for over a year.
141,234 worlds on and I have a girlfriend. We have been together for several months, but it’s not going well – I . I also have an imaginary ulcer from working late regularly trying to stay ahead of my younger co-workers.
On world 693,681 and for the space of 11,121 worlds, I am not alive – a car accident on a cold winter night, and a non-working defroster.
On world two million four hundred six thousand three hundred and eighteen, and for that one world only in the first 100 million worlds, I find myself newly married to a lost love in this world. We are trying to adopt a child.
In the mid Four millions worlds, I am still living in San Francisco. I am in product marketing for the most part. In a lot of those worlds I work at a short variety of online marketing and software companies. In one I am a genius at Key Word search, and I hate myself for it.
Across a brief span of worlds from 7,824,950 through 8,347,332, I landed a job to varying effect in San Diego, in one of those worlds I very contentedly ended up working in food services and becoming a surfer.
Around world 16,526,881, I never moved to California, I am still in Utah. I still work at the big agency downtown – always a cog, never a gear. I am not happy, but the life is not completely sad either. I long for something that is not mine to have.
Across tens of millions of worlds from 50 million to 90 million out I am working for Microsoft (or have recently worked for Microsoft) and am spread across several different locations, but the majority of me lives in Seattle. I am mostly in channel sales. Some of me are married, a lot are not.
In the first several hundred millions, I am sometimes married to my never lost muse in varying degrees of happiness, both very and not so much, but it is enough for me that we are together somewhere. In some we have children, in some we are childless, in some we are attempting to adopt.
Across about an eighth of the worlds in the low 1 Billions, I live in the general NYC area. In most cases I am either in sales or project management across a variety of Pharmtech and Industrial companies. In one world I teach Improv part-time and Martial Arts part-time. In that world I approach a small amount of Zen about life.
The further away I get from my world, the more unconnected I become to the life I currently know. The range of decisions and choices from world to world domino in unexpected and surprising ways, both happily and sadly. But fundamentally, I am still me. I can still see the me that I am in all of those me’s.
In the worlds leading up to 5 Billion, I am married to a girl that I dated briefly in my early 30s. We have three kids. I drift from sales job to sales job. I am not happy, but I am not completely unhappy either.
On world 9,404,211,107 Mitt Romney is President. There are, surprisingly, no other changes in my life from how it is currently.
In the worlds occupying the 300 Billions, I start finding versions of me that have either not been divorced by my first wife, or have reconciled. In those worlds I work mostly in Television or Government Communications and Media, sometimes at Disney, often in Tampa, occasionally in Orlando. I am mostly content to be contributing financially to the stability of my family.
I am Ten Trillion worlds out. Sometimes we still moved to Florida to be closer to my wife’s family, sometimes we moved back to Utah, sometimes we made a go of it in Southern California. I sometimes end up exactly where I am in my world. Other times, I end up far away; an Air Force officer, finding the structure of military life the perfect antidote. I am a filmmaker with varying degrees of success. My marriage survives, it ends sooner, it ends later.
These many worlds are all built from the smallest choices, like tiny projectiles pelting across the surface of a meteor in deepest space – the sheer number of tiny little impacts changing the trajectory imperceptibly but building into huge differences in their final destinations.
322,518,546,796,464 worlds out I am a full time published author. In the surrounding worlds I am an English Professor, a stage director and playwright, a Bishop in the LDS church, I live in Taiwan semi-fulltime. I am all over the world.
Regardless of the worlds that I find myself in, it is apparent that in those in which I have been mostly single my whole adult lives, I have ended up working in a creative field in some capacity, and in those that I have been married, I am professionally unfulfilled.
40 Quadrillion worlds away we never moved away from Oklahoma as a child, I grew up in Hawaii, I still moved to Utah with my parents. I spent a long stint in the Army, the ones of me that survived the various wars and skirmishes. My dad is still alive, he is either in Florida or Arizona, retired and playing golf, he passed away earlier and later. I am a comic book artist, I am a commercial photographer, I am an electrical engineer.
Still, I am always me, in one way or another.
In the low Quintillions I never had a little brother or sister, or I had a little sister then brother, or just one. I am a cowboy, I speak Chinese fluently, I never joined the LDS church. I am a Methodist Minister. I am a missionary in Africa. I direct porn. I am a baseball coach.
I am 80 Quintillion worlds away from me and suddenly I am not. I never existed. There is someone completely different filling my space, but my parents are still my parents. And my older brother and sister are still there, with different younger siblings, or all of us, or none of us.
Right now, I am zero worlds away. I am here now, in this world trying to decide what to have for lunch.
A floating little box waiting to be hit by a tiny grain of sand.