Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
How much control do you REALLY have over your world? We can all think back to pivotal moments in our lives when taking other paths might have led us in wildly different directions. We sigh and wonder idly what the present might look like if we had married someone else, gone to that other university, or moved to another city. As we speculate, some of us are filled with regret for choices we made; others are overwhelmed with relief at the pitfalls we avoided.
All sorts of self-appointed gurus—parents, teachers, spiritual counselors, etc.—advise us to make decisions with care. As it turns out, the world around us doesn’t operate without our input. Every decision we make affects what happens.
I’ve had some difficulty with this idea. Surely, the world doesn’t give a hoot who or why I am. In his PBS TV series Genius, Stephen Hawking has the audacity to ask the audience to answer HUGE questions that were fodder for historic geniuses. In each episode, three adult volunteers are given a series of problems to solve using fabulously creative clues and equipment (such as race cars, paint sponge cannons, or cocktails). The answers to the problems lead the volunteers to a solution for the greater question on which the program is based—such as “Why are we here?” “Where did the universe begin?” or “Is there other intelligent life in the universe?” (I have to say that the volunteers who represent “regular people” are, in fact, very intelligent, curious, educated regular people. But viewers don’t have to match the wits of the volunteers to enjoy the puzzles.)
As Hawking guides both the viewers and the volunteers through the segment specifically about the meaning of life, we discover that science says that, when faced with a decision, each of us is presented with only a limited number of options dictated by all that has gone before. In other words, each choice we make determines what the next alternatives will be. We really do create our personal world with our choices.
Weirdly, quantum physics suggests that we may be living in one of an infinite number of universes in which we’ve made all the choices possible. However, since we’re aware of only this one universe in which we’re living right now, the existence of the other realities is pretty much irrelevant to our daily life. (Of course, if you’re not a scientist, to understand these concepts better you’d need to watch the programs. Hawking explains better than I can.)
My takeaway from all this is a reminder that when we complain—or brag—about our present situation, we need to look at all the choices that led us to this minute to reveal how we laid the groundwork for this situation to be. We can easily understand how damaging to our happiness that hopelessness, self-defeat, or blaming can be and why we’re told to maintain a positive attitude.
What kind of tomorrow are you setting up today?