The Road Not Taken

jeremiahAs we embark on a new year, I am thinking about the road not taken. Of the decisions and choices we make along the way that alter the course of our lives, in ways we will never know. We may know what our lives are today, but we will never know what they might have been if we made different choices.

Sometimes I wish I could get a glimpse into that life. What does the road not taken look like? Would we want to see it if we could? Would doing so cause us to sigh with relief or break our heart?

Recently, I had lunch with a friend who is a professor of physics . He has spent his career studying time travel.  His belief in parallel universes,  to explain what is known as the grandfather paradox, is like the road not taken. In short, if you went back in time and killed your grandfather, which prevented your parents and, by extension, you from being born, how are you now alive to go back in time? One answer is that granddad is alive in a parallel universe. Likewise, according to this theory, there is another you living in a parallel universe, living out the choices you did not make.

Kind of mind blowing, when one considers the possibility.

Moving ahead to 2017, I want to make decisions and choices that lead me down a road that feels right in my body, heart, and soul. I haven’t been doing that much over the past 10 years, and the wrongness of it all is catching up with me in ways I can no longer ignore. My body feels achy and tired. My spirit is flat. My energy low. My mind won’t shut off. I can’t get a good night’s sleep. I feel afraid a lot, and I can’t exactly pinpoint why.

Change through choice is the only recourse, and I’ve identified ways I can begin this process. They include reigniting a daily yoga and meditation practice, dancing a lot, and taking regular walks through nature. Tapping into the source via the body and spiritual/natural  world greatly helps to clarify what changes and choices need to be made. Finding the courage to stand up for one’s life helps, too.

Yet, it also seems that sometimes whatever choices we make, there are forces at work leading us, and even dragging us kicking and screaming, in another direction. How much of our life is defined by our choices and how much by these forces? In the end, do our choices even matter or do God’s, or fate’s, plans for us prevail? If so, is surrendering to them our only option for peace?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and also what your plans are as you enter 2017. Happy New Year, my darling fellow bloggers! May peace and courage be yours.

P.S. If you want to learn more about time travel and parallel universes, check out this 17 minute Ted Talk by my friend, Professor Ron Mallett. The story of how he became interested in studying time travel, and his work, are fascinating. Enjoy!

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30 thoughts on “The Road Not Taken

  1. My personal experience is that when you follow your heart and do NOT succeed you can fall (or fail) much lower than if you “listened” to the “right” choice. However, eventually I do realize that it was my personal choice and at least I tried to achieve my “dream” what ever it is. And I do feel content that at least I did everything I could at the time, because there are always circumstances above my control. With all that, definitely I do think that you should follow your body/heart/soul to feel satisfied.

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    • Thanks for your comment, Svet. You make a great point that if we go after something with all we’ve got and don’t achieve the results we hoped for, the effects can be devastating to our psyche and self-esteem. I think that’s why so many people don’t go for it in the first place. It’s scary to fail. This post was prompted by a vivid dream I had two nights before New Year’s Eve. It didn’t show me the road not taken, but in it I was getting a second chance to make a choice different from one I made years ago. And it felt good and right and I was ready to do it. The dream was so realistic that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Have you ever had a dream like that.? Mainly I was thinking about all this as it relates to choices such as which career path to choose, which person to marry, saying or not saying something to someone that can potentially alter your relationship or one of your lives. I’d say it most definitely applies to our goals and dreams, too.

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    • Hi Alan. Happy New Year! I’m so glad you enjoyed the video. His story is truly amazing. He wrote a book about it, and the movie rights were bought a while back by director Spike Lee (not sure if you’ve heard of him). A rough draft of a script was written, but nothing ever came of it. Now Ron (along with another physicist who studies time travel) is featured in a documentary about time travel called How To Build A Time Machine, which was recently released. Very cool stuff, most of which goes way over my head 🙂

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      • Happy New Year Kim. 🎉🎉🎉

        He certainly is someone special.

        Spike Lee!
        His movies are well thought of
        here in England. 😎

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A thought provoking post Kim and equally fascinating video on a subject that I’m particularly interested in. I’m a big second guesser, I must admit I often wonder what would have happened if I’d made different decisions. I know there’s little point in it but I’ve made a couple of bad choices in the last couple of years that have completely changed my life and not in a good way. But unlike the movie The Time Machine there’s no going back.

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  3. I was listening to an interview with Paul McCartney the other day, Kim, and he spoke of a mantra that The Beatles came collectively to use whenever they felt uncertain about which direction to take, what to do next, whether to do anything at all, in fact. In their very early days, they were travelling along a road in their little van – just the four of them – and the weather was poor, with torrential rain and it being very windy. A gust suddenly caused the vehicle to veer off the road and descend down an embankment to land upturned, in the process seeming to trap them inside as they became wedged in a ditch at the bottom. This all happened in silence, and when they came to rest, after a few seconds Paul said “What shall we do?” More silence. Then George said “Something will happen”, and that became their dictum in any future moments of indecision. They remained trapped in the vehicle only for about twenty minutes before the driver of a tow-truck scrambled down the embankment and told them he’d haul them upright and out, which he did. The moral of this really is that whatever plans we envisage, or implement, inevitably “something will happen” that alters our course in any event. It’s not a recipe for abject passivity, rather is it perhaps a counter to our self-centric tendency to leap in with perceived solutions to our discontent, or current malaise. Quite often – and I don’t know if you ever find this to be so – then when we look at what we’re actually experiencing in the immediacy of the moment, as against what we think we’re experiencing on an enduring and ongoing basis, then we see that things are actually pretty okay, and that it’s purely the thought of discontent that makes us believe we are discontent. The problem can be that we allow this misguided thinking to guide us; so in that scenario it’s better to take George’s dictum to heart, perhaps? Things are a bit topsy-turvy, but they will right themselves, and something will happen. 🙂

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    • Hariod, first of all, what a GREAT story! Thank you for sharing it. I love the Beatles. As I recall, George Harrison was a bit spiritual, followed a yogi of some sort, so I can imagine him saying exactly what he said. Second, I LOVE the mantra “Something will happen”! I’m stealing it and using it for my own this coming year. Third, I completely agree with you that our own minds/thoughts catastrophize problems, matters, etc. and make them much worse than they actually are. I know my mind/thoughts do that all the time. Sometimes it seems like I don’t actually want to be happy or content, because if I did why do I keep wrecking my inner peace with my stupid, pointless thoughts? There are times when I have to literally say to myself, “Kim, stop it. Right now (for example) you are sitting on this beautiful beach, on this hot, sunny day, with people you love and who love you. RIGHT NOW, in this moment, there is absolutely nothing to be fearful or troubled about. Thank you for sharing all of this, Hariod!

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  4. Funny because I even got to the part about the parallel universes, I was going the mention that theory! And then you wrote about it. There are some great reads about this too, fiction also. Just imagine an alternate plan where our lives come out better, not worse! All the dreams we wanted here! I hear you, my life has been a bit down too. I’m doing a lot of journaling while I am looking for a new job (again). Trying to find my soul somehow and still trying to figure out why my paths have taken me over and over to the same places. It’s interesting really, but sometimes frustrating. Do we create these realities or is it a bit karma? Or both? I would love to believe all the stuff about how we can make it all be OK, but as much as I try, somehow I keep winding up seeing the same landscapes of my life. It can cause a bit of anxiety for the lack of seeming control. So, where do I go from here: just trying to breathe, listen (inner and outer), be quiet and go with it. xoxo

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    • Life, and the universe, is one great mystery. I wish we had more answers to these questions. I know what you mean about feeling like you’re on this merry go round, seeing the same things over and over, and don’t know how to stop it. I think maybe sometimes we just need to jump off (as in take a leap of faith), trust in something greater than ourselves and, as in the story Hariod shared, trust that “something will happen.” Say, didn’t you recently mention you wanted to write a book? Maybe you could write one about a parallel universe! Put your own unique spin on it.

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  5. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of time travel, but I can’t think too deeply about it or my mind just shuts down. (Same reason I’m hopeless at advanced math or physics: I have a hard time truly understanding anything I can’t visualize). But I do think a lot about how my life might have been different if I had made different choices, and there are definitely choices I wish I hadn’t made. If I had the chance to go back and choose differently, I probably would, even knowing that I’d have no way of predicting all the consequences of that decision.
    For the coming year, I’m with you. I want to live more according to my true nature and be willing to take more risks. I get what Svet said about how painful it is to follow your heart and then fail, and I think that’s why I’ve not always been willing to do that. It’s so much easier to let others control things, and then I get to blame them! But failure is the price we pay for a fulfilled life, and I think it’s time to stop being so afraid of it.
    I do believe in God, but not in a God that is micromanaging my life or making my decisions for me. I think what I do or don’t do is all on me. I believe that God is with me on that journey, but not directing it. But that, of course, is simply my own personal belief, and I don’t expect anyone else to share it. We are all entitled to our own world views! Thanks, Kim, for such a though provoking post!

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    • Ann, I’m right there with you when it comes to the math and physics. Luckily, my friend Ron is able to bring it down to a level that I can (almost) understand. He is quite humble in that way. I mostly share your views of God, though I do feel that sometimes my life leans more toward his will. Not that I’m blaming him for my dumb choices, but some things happen and I’m like, what the hell? Where did that come from? (I’m thinking of that tree falling on my husband’s car and other odd occurrences – though admittedly some of them have amazing outcomes, too). Then I get torn and wonder if I should be taking more control of my life or letting it go more, kind of like what Hariod said George said about something will happen. It’s all so confusing, Ann! Thank you for your thoughtful comments!

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      • I agree, it’s very confusing. I think ultimately, we have to just go with what we instinctively believe. And even though I don’t believe that my life is being controlled, there are times when good stuff happens, and my first thought is, “Thank you, God.” So, I think I’m still a bit conflicted on that one, too!

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  6. There is so much about the universe we don’t know including whether or not there are parallel universes or life on other planets or in other galaxies. Or where we are in the overall space and time of the universe …are we at the beginning , the middle or the end? How can we know for sure ??? Questions so many questions… Yet one thing does remain, the here and now. It is what we do with our lives now that matter most .

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  7. You are friends with Professor Mallett? I’m incredibly impressed! I know of him through science documentaries about time travel. As I remember, his father died when he was very young and so he devoted his life to trying to find some way to go back and possibly help him. His story was very memorable because it was so touching. I’ll bet you had a very interesting conversation together.

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    • Yes, Bun, I am fortunate to be friends with him. I work at the university where he worked for many years as a professor and still has a lab for his research, though he is retired. Several years ago I mustered up the courage to ask him to be a guest speaker at a leadership conference I was organizing for students and he graciously agreed. We have been friends since, which mainly means having lunch on occasion. However, I will be going to the screening of the documentary he is featured in in a nearby city this month, as he kindly provided me with two tickets for a Christmas gift. I am bringing my good friend who is also interested in time travel, parallel universes, etc. and Ron will be there. You are correct that he lost his father at a young age and that this has fueled his drive to make time travel a reality. Great story and super nice guy. Thanks for taking the time to read, Bun!

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  8. Thanks for your post, very thought provoking. I really agree that I have avoided doing things that I really wanted because to fail would have been too devastating; I’ve always followed the safe path. So I am not full of regrets, but I do wonder what I might have been capable of if I had taken more risks. I also practice yoga I find it helps me to be more in the present, and less caught up in the past.

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    • Thank you for your comment and please forgive my very delayed reply. I took what was supposed to be a two-week blog break and it turned into over a month! Regarding what you said, I think our timing happens when it is meant to, and that’s not always according to our preferred timeline. I guess we just have to accept it for what it is and make the best of it, no regrets 🙂

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