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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If you could go back in time, would you?

Dinna fash yourself, Sassenach. 

These words, spoken often by Jamie Fraser, the red-haired Scottish hero of the STARZ series Outlander, to his spunky British wife, Claire, mean Don’t worry yourself, Outlander.  Jamie’s pet name for Claire, Sassenach, refers to British persons, considered outlanders (outsiders) by the Highlanders.  Little does Jamie know, when Claire mysteriously appears in the middle of the Scottish woods one day, that she is more of an “outlander” than his 18th century brain can ever fathom.

I am in love with this saga, based on the series of books by Diana Gabaldon.  Claire, while on a second honeymoon in Scotland after World War II with her British husband,  gets sucked hundreds of years into the past through Stonehenge-style rocks. There she meets Jamie, her soulmate across time, whom she marries, which turns her into a sort of bigamist. Together they face war,  endure trauma and tragedy and, after Claire confesses the truth about herself, attempt to change the future of the Highlanders’ fate. Through it all, their love story inspires. It’s truly the stuff of dreams and fantasies.

As much as I love a good romance, I’m more intrigued by the notion of being able to go back in time. I’ve often thought how cool it would be to go back to when dinosaurs roamed the planet. If I had a chance to do it, even if it meant never coming back (or is it forward) to the present day, and probably getting eaten by one of those giant lizards, if I didn’t starve to death first, I’d go in a second. I mean, to see a living, breathing dinosaur!  I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about it.

A friend of mine, a professor emeritus of physics, spent his entire career studying time travel (in the early years on the sly, lest his colleagues think him a quack). His name is Ron Mallett and the story of why he became obsessed with building a time machine was turned into a book, Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a RealityRon was kind enough to volunteer his time at a leadership conference I’d organized for students, and we’ve been friendly ever since. I love picking his physicist’s brain over our occasional lunches. Much of what he says goes over my English major head, like the time he tried to explain the existence of parallel universes by stirring a cup of coffee, and his reasoning for why he believes in a higher power. While Ron has accepted that time travel will not happen in his lifetime, he remains optimistic. He believes it will likely begin with Morse code-like messages sent back and forth between people living in different dimensions.  How amazing is that?

I’m curious – if you could go back in time, would you? If so, where would you go and why? If someone told you he or she was a time traveler, would you believe it?

Aye, I believe ye, Sassenach. But it would ha’ been a good deal easier if you’d only been a witch.