Past, Present, Future….Are They Perhaps Happening All At Once?

Does anyone else ever get the feeling that there are other “storylines”, other possible outcomes to life situations happening at the same time and that one is only experiencing one of the possibilities?

Being in the School of Music at Northwestern was such a rigorous discipline that it didn’t leave much time for all the general courses I wanted to pursue. One subject that I yearned to study was physics. I ended up reading many books on the subject and comprehended as much as I could without being fluent in the “language” of math, which is ultimately required to truly understand these theories. I have a relative who is an astrophysicist and at family reunions, I would grill him about nuclear fusion (he was making tiny stars in a lab situation) but he, too, would ultimately say that there was only so much he could explain in English, the rest would necessitate the language of math :)!

Then I began to notice that certain movies played with some of the theories in physics, in particular, the theoretical non-linear notion of time. “People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between the past,
the present and the future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion” — Albert Einstein

Watching the movie Frequency,last night, fit right in with the way I’ve been “feeling” lately. The feeling that if only one component had changed, the present would be a completely different entity. Back to the Future, one of my all time favorite films, also echoes the theory that really all time: past, present and future is happening simultaneously; though the movie uses time travel as the tool to comprehend this. The instantaneous change of the present when the past is rectified is a simpler way of trying to enumerate this theory.

Then I turn to another movie that will not leave me alone in its premise, even if the premise is total fantasy- Serendipity. In this movie, rather than wrestling with quantum physics, Schroedinger’s cat, the deniers of said cat and future theorums that expand what Schroedinger was using to mock certain physical theorums, the characters simply KNOW that their present situations are not really what the future should be.

Jonathan Trager, the male protagonist, is about to marry a beautiful and wonderful woman but can’t until he knows for sure that Fate had not planned another outcome. The word serendipity has been voted one of the 10 most difficult words to define and yet is defined as “happy accident” stumbling onto something that was unexpected and positive. It is even a word used in science. Years before he had “stumbled” on to the love of his life…his fate…or in the words of Back to the Future, his “density”:) She felt it too but wanted to leave it to Fate to see if one day, the clues they created for each other would lead them back to each other. Jonathan describes to his best friend why he can’t marry his fiancée until he knows what happened with his serendipitous encounter: “Halley is like The Godfather, Part II. One of my favorite movies of all time, Godfather, Part II. That was an incredible movie. Might be better than the original. All right? But no matter how much you love The Godfather, Part II, you still have to see the original… to understand and appreciate the sequel, don’t ya think?” (–Jonathan Trager in Serendipity (2001)

The story shows people engaged to be married to other people but having met for just a few hours years before, somehow sense that they cannot progress further with their current relationships until they resolve the nagging feeling that their real destiny lies elsewhere, in fact, with each other.

This is how I have felt with various situations and experiences in my own life. Sometimes I feel like there were other outcomes in life that I’ve glimpsed at but which I’m not experiencing currently. Sometimes I think things that are happening currently whether in career, relationship or general life style could change as in Frequency or Back to the Future if one of the characters or I, myself, just made another decision and went with the fluid suggestions that the heart gives us.

It’s a strange disconnect and I wonder if there are others of you out there that sometimes sense this: that there are many stories playing out at one time and that you don’t quite recognize the story that is currently playing out or that you have the nagging feeling that you need to get back to Godfather I to be sure that the Godfather II that you are currently “watching”…makes sense


Or maybe being in the mountains for a time, watching deer graze on my meadow, the bright stars at night and the glory of this Fall season are just enhancing and exaggerating my fertile imagination :)!

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