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Timelines are just what you’d think they are: Destinies realized when our path diverges. The illusion of that choice has confounded philosophers through the centuries. How can I choose one path over another? What happens to the timeline in the discarded choice? Timelines collapse when I take the right fork over the left. There are those that believe that the unchosen path continues in an alternate universe. But, if these choices are realized in alternate versions of ourselves and timelines, then is choice even relevant? Still, some believe that destiny is self-correcting. If I choose left over right, and right was my destined fork, will fate conspire to bring me back to the right path?
It would be easy to make a decision if there were a map that indicated all the important decisions to be made in life. But even if there were such a map, would this decision even be on it? I think that in the grand scheme of destiny that this decision is inconsequential. Perhaps it is but whimsy of a fickle deity in an uncaring universe. After all, if this forked path is unimportant enough to be marked on a map, what value does it truly have on my reality?
But what is destiny? Is it the culmination of endless minor decisions? A lifetime of unmarked and unimportant forked paths is no life that I care to live. What would that mean to my life thus far? But then again, what about the multitudinal universe? What of all those unrealized decisions littered along the path I’ve trodden? If each path has been conquered, then all decisions are worthless.
Maybe I was a hero along a different forked path. But, if that’s true, then so should the opposite be true: I could’ve been a villain. But how do these unrealized realities affect this reality? If I could break through from one reality to another, what would I learn about myself? Would these new versions of myself even be me?
It’s easy to say that I’d still be me in the scope of a short path. Here, an hour from camp can only have a finite number of divergent paths. I think that those iterations of myself are me. But what about a forked path two hours ago? Two weeks ago? The exponential diversification of reality can’t be properly understood by a mere mortal. Would something I did a lifetime ago result in a different person?
“This is not one of those times,” an exasperated voice intones. I turn to see my companions waiting patiently for my decision.
I see her face beaming and shyly peeking over the wickered basket clutched to her breast. A basket patiently awaiting the fruits of our journey. Waiting for my decision. For her, I make these decisions without regret.
“I think the orchard is this way,” I declare with false confidence. We follow the right path, but a part of me begs to question what reality lurks down the unchosen path.