Back in high school I took a keen interest in history. Not so much because of a certain era or event, but rather because of the implications a person or event had on today’s world. My teacher, on the other hand, loved the cold, hard facts (if you read this, you know who you are!). When was a specific agreement signed? When was this person born and why did this and that turned out the way it did? To a certain point, this was absolutely fine – you have to know the rules before you can play around with them.
From time to time I liked to ask questions like what would have happened, if the South had won the US Civil War (of course a very popular question), or what would have happened if Hitler was never born or decided to stick to painting stuff? Needless to say, my teacher was not very happy with me and told me more than once that my inquiries are pointless, since history did play out the way we know today and it has no use to question what could have been. What a bummer …
Luckily a couple of years later, I discovered the literary genre of “Alternative History”. Turns out, I wasn’t alone in my quest for the “What ifs …?”.
Hooray For Causality!
The reason you are in this place now, reading this text, having this particular group of friends, is the result of a certain chain of events that started eons ago. To quote a popular TV show:
“It all started with a Big Bang!”
Apart from the infamous Big Bang and other incidents of cosmic proportions, smaller events have formed you and everything you know and hold dear. For example, if the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs had missed, mammals could have never become the dominant species, the internet would have never been invented and this blog would have never seen the light of day!
Ah, causality: One must love you!
As I mentioned earlier, there is a whole genre of fiction dedicated to causality and the effects, that it has on humanity. And this is where the fun is! Speculating about a world, where whole societies are radically different from what we know today, defines us as a civilization (yes, I’m going big on this!). Even small events can shape a whole world to come. How this world might look like and what problems would arise from said parallel history is shaped by our dreams and nightmares and is an entertaining mind game for sure!
“If only …”
But what if everything or at least something actually had turned out differently for a single person and not the world?
What if you had asked that girl you liked ten years ago out? What if you actually had studied something like astrophysics and not art? It’s easy to get lost in these kinds of “What ifs …”, since you risk questioning every. single. choice. that. you. have. ever. made.
Of course it’s easy to bitch about lost chances and missed opportunities, but would this other world be so much better after all? There would be other problems! Want to have a better job? Sure, it’s easy to imagine how great the perfect job would be, but this might require longer working hours, neglecting your family and losing your friends (or never meeting them). Doesn’t sound so great anymore, does it? Certainly, it doesn’t have to be worse, but are you willing to take the chances?
The Bottom Line
Since you have the time and energy to read a blog, life can’t be that bad, right? Think about those people, who can’t afford a computer or don’t even have the privilege to leave their home without the fear of being killed.
I’m not saying you should stop thinking about the choices you’ve made and never look back. However, if contemplating different scenarios for every decision you’ve made starts to eat you up from the inside, it’s time to change the aspects of your life that are a direct result of said choices.
So, if you really think your life could use an adjustment of some sort, then start working on it and don’t stick to the past.