I talked about this idea briefly with my associate (who shall remain nameless, but let's say this person also has a blog here which I may or may not have linked to the left and may or may not be a certain Head something in a certain Assumption something in a certain school in a certain area of Dublin 12, that much is certain) and it does produce a very definitie limitless supply of potential outcomes.
The issue of alternate realities has been raised countless times on TV and the cinema, most notably Jet Li's "One" and my usual favourite "Red Dwarf". The scientific theory if you can use that word, suggests that alternate realities exist over time and reality itself (the 4th and 5th dimensions respectively). In "Red Dwarf", the idea behind the number of potential realities is proportional to the number of decisions we make. That alone gives you an idea as to just why there is a limitless potential number of permutations. Given that the number of decisions we make a day can be in the thousands, the number over a week, let alone a year or a lifetime is phenomenal.
To make the issue easier to comprehend and more clearer, we can take it that significant alternate realities are derived from key decisions we make. Using Red Dwarf as an example; the alternate reality plot surrounds Arnold Rimmer and Ace Rimmer. Arnold is the main character that people are associated with, Ace on the other hand is introduced to us in Season 4 as part of an alternate reality. Normal Rimmer is anally retented, power mad, selfish and somewhat of a loser. Ace on the other hand is galactic hero, loved by all, completely selfless and an outright great guy (as people who meet him exclaim "What a guy!"). Their difference in personality is explained in a decision that was made in their childhood (and actually the opening scene of the particular episode), where our Arnold Rimmer was skipped ahead in class (and ultimately was behind everyone else and suffered resulting in the pitiful character we meet in the show), Ace stayed back a year, and as a result was the oldest and best in the class, meaning his personality and self confidence never suffered. In "One", Jet Li's character tries to kill all his alterate selves in order to become stronger, so that the life force which sustains his person over all the realities will instead be focused into his "One" body and ultimately become stronger than anyone else.
Rather than try to elaborate on this any further, I'm going to show you a list of potential differences that could have occured in my life, had I made different decisions or what may have been different say....had I been a girl!:
- Had I been a girl, I'd have been named Rebecca and obviously this single thing results in an enormous amount of other possibilities, so I'll let you figure them out for yourself.
- Had I chosen to go to school at 5 instead of 4, I may have had a different education and ultimately turned out different personality wise
- Whether I'd chosen to do Spanish instead of French. Would I then have a different group of friends or lost out on all the great moments from French class
- Business or Tech Graphics? Would I know be studying economics in college instead of engineering?
- Transition Year - different class, different teachers, different Leaving Cert exam, all could have resulted in me being in a very different situation than I'm in now
- What would I be doing on Fridays now had I actually decided to leave the SJA when I was considering it?
- We could go into a multitude of situations arising from "What if you had fancied her instead of her?" and all that so you can think about those ones yourselves.....
And so on...
As I said at the beginning the list is virtually endless. Just think about what things might have happened differently had you gotten up earlier and had your breakfast or actually took the Metro from the guy at the corner of the street. What if you wanted to tell someone how you feel about them but didn't because you were scared? What if you had've placed a bet on Man Utd last year to win the league, even though the odds were stacked against them in Chelsea's favour?
Any one question spawns an array of follow-ups, all within the "What if?" category.