Based on a recent conversation with two real people (“R” and “J”).
R, science writer and non-poet, standing on balcony:
“What if I’d done spoken word poetry at Yale? How would I be different?”
AG, writer and non-poet, also on balcony:
“Well, you’d have done spoken word, for one. That’s different.”
J, scientist and non-poet, also on balcony:
“There would be more poetry in your life.”
“And in this other world, if you’d still made the choices that led you to this balcony, you’d be standing on this balcony and wondering what would have happened if you hadn’t done spoken word.
“And then I’d say: ‘Well, you wouldn’t have done spoken word, for one. That’s different.’
“And J would say: ‘There would be less poetry in your life’.
“I mean, in this alternate reality of yours, we’re still the same people we are in this reality, right? We’d still be giving the same unhelpful advice.”
It’s good to know that some things in our quantum multiverse never change.
There is a more frightening possibility: Had R done spoken word, she might have become the kind of person who wouldn’t even wonder about the path of her life without spoken word.
Then again, we lose something every time we make a big decision — not just the possibilities we are aware of, but the possibilities we will never be aware of if we follow another path.