Sometimes my life doesn’t seem real. I feel that if it gets to being too much, I should be able to just close my eyes and scream and wake up, and there I’ll be in my bed ten years ago and wonder at this strange, vivid dream I seem to be living now. How could I have done those things. It is like at some point in my life I committed some crime against fate, I deviated from my programmed path by some freak glitch in the universe and split off into this alternate parallel reality. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. It’s all wrong. None of this can be real. How can it?
I think there are at least one, maybe two moments of stark, palpable realization of self awareness in a person’s life. Where they suddenly become aware of the reality of their own existence. Before that moment they’d lived their lives taking their own existence for granted, never giving it a seconds though. Never wondering, “could it have been another way than this?” Suddenly the person becomes aware of the billions of parallel realities that could have been, and by that mere realization they realize that these realities are indeed real, but beyond their reach. In these realities they’ve been many things, lived different places, married different people or stayed single. Every choice springs forth from each moment like a cascading stream filling the loose areas between the jagged black rocks of time and space, like water flowing into a dry river delta, the number of realities growing exponentially ad infinitum with each passing moment.
I remember the first time I had this experience. I was in high school and it was 1 am and I brought a bunch of friends back to the house. My mom had gone to bed. My dad never would have allowed me to be out as late as mom did, and she also didn’t mind if I had guests back at her home during the wee hours. We came back and we were laughing and having a good time, I went to get a cup out of the cupboard, it had a clear glass door, and when I shut it I caught my own reflection in the glass. At that moment I became suddenly aware of my own existence, I stared at myself, into my own eyes and questioned my own reality. Was it really this way? Couldn’t it have been some other? It happened again today. I was rocking my son, he would rest his head on my shoulder, and then pick himself up and look at me and smile, and touch my face with his young fingers. His mother came quietly into the room. I kissed my son’s forehead and said “ok buddy, I’m going to give you to your momma, love you, goodnight.” I handed him to his mother, he leaned over and puckered his lips as he does before I go to get a kiss. I gave him one. And as I left he reached out his hand to me and waved a little toddler wave. I waved back. “You can leave now,” my wife’s cold voice came. My face cracked as a wave of emotion hit me, a tear almost started but I suppressed it, and made for the door as quickly as I could. Out to the hall, and stairs, and out to my car to drive away to my new home. It shook me I realize now, as I lay down to sleep. “Could it have been another way?” In another reality my wife doesn’t ask me to leave I as she comes in. She gives me a kiss as I hand her the baby and she starts singing a lullaby as I gently close the door behind me. I stay there and she joins me on the couch and we talk about our plans for the future. But, here I lay, billions of light years from that reality.