Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Paths All Taken

In a provocative comment on my post on "Meeting a Self that Took the Path Not Taken" Leanne invites us to expand our understanding of the nature of the multiverse and the multidimensional self. Instead of thinking about paths not taken in this life, she suggests, we might reflect on the possibility that, in our greater self, we have experienced all possible paths, and can tap into that. "If we switch the thought to the the paths all taken, it becomes such an invitation for exploration, for reflection, for forgiveness, for healing, for understanding and ultimately, I believe, for a true expansion and rethinking of identity and of the egoic self. You invite us to open our minds to a larger self, outside of our name and current identity and to embrace all choices as being experienced."
This was the working conclusion of a group of frequent fliers I led in a new experiment in tracking an alternate self in a gathering last evening. As in the previous experiment, I asked each member of the group to start by traveling back along the road of their earlier life and finding a crossroads where they had made a significant decision but might have chosen differently. This crossroads would become the point of departure for a longer journey, powered by shamanic drumming. I gave the following instructions for the larger journey:
When the journey begins, you will find yourself approaching that crossroads you remember from your earlier life. This time, you will take a different road. You will follow your alternate self along that alternate life path, all the way to the present moment in time.
One traveler pursued an alternate event track on which, instead of marrying and having kids early, she pursued career and higher education, becoming a U.N. interpreter and eventually founding her own successful business. She saw herself giving speeches in no fewer than five languages. She had some romance and excitement on this trail, but found herself - at her present age - living alone and feeling lonely, amid the trappings of success and affluence that surrounded her. She told us this experience left her glad she made the choice that she made, and also glad she could now feel she had not missed out on that alternate life as the international career woman. "Now I really feel I've lived both lives." Asked whether she could bring gifts of her alternate self into her present life, she said she'd get on with working with some French language tapes, with the aim of making herself fully bilingual, as her parallel self had succeeded in doing decades earlier. She felt that her language skills might grow faster now that there was some conscious convergence with that other self, the globe-trotting linguist.
Another traveler who had never married or become a mother found herself going back to a crossroads she reached in her teens, when - in the life she remembered - she decided not to go back to the boyfriend who was waiting for her in California after spending the holidays with her family on the East Coast. Following her alternate self who DID go back to the boyfriend, she found herself participating, very vividly, in a life that included going to grad school with him, getting married and having kids, running a psychology practice, and then finally breaking up after her husband developed a "roving eye." She reported, with calm certainty, "I've done that now, and I don't need to carry on having any regrets." She thought she would try to bring some of her parallel self's gifts in research and writing into a new phase of her present creative life.
A woman who made a commitment to service in ministry and chose not to marry, returned to a time when she might have responded to the invitation of a colleague to pursue a romantic relationship. On the alternate life path she chose to track, she made a different choice, pursued the relationship and entered into a loving marriage. She gave birth to a girl and later to a boy. She developed a professional career in counseling on a university campus. She experienced wrenching grief when her husband died leaving her widowed in her mid-forties. She had a sense of the loving care of this man that reached from the other side to her on both life paths. This traveler returned with a deep sense of peace and satisfaction. The alternate life and the one she now inhabited both required courage to navigate challenges. She spoke about a sense of both lives being lived well, and of both offering service and love to others. "Both paths are of great value," she said. "Knowing that, I feel deep peace and satisfaction."
Not all the experiences that were reported brought calm and closure. Bravely, one of our travelers returned to the night when she had gone out on a motorbike and suffered a terrible accident that put her in hospital for a long time and left her scarred. What if she had not gone out that night? She found that, on the alternate track that avoided the accident, her marriage still collapsed, and this released her from some of her second-guessing. She also met another self, a double who had made the same choice to go out on the bike but had never gotten herself together after the accident. "I call her the Sad One. She's the one who carries her disability through life as her permanent excuse for not trying and not really living. I thought I'd parted company with her but she's still around and I want to send her away."
Part of the secret logic of our lives may be that our paths constantly interweave with those of numberless parallel selves, sometimes converging or even merging, sometimes diverging ever farther. The gifts and failings of these alternate selves - with all the baggage train of their separate lives - may influence us, when our paths converge, in ways that we generally fail to recognize. Yet a sudden afflux of insight or forward-moving energy may be connected with joining up with an alternate and lively self, just as a sour mood of defeat or a series of otherwise inexplicable setbacks may relate to the shadow of a different parallel self, a Sad One or a Dark One.
Alternate reality tracking of the kind I have reported here may become alternate reality therapy - worthy of the acronym ART - if we can rise to greater consciousness of who is stepping where in our life gardens of forking paths.


Nancy said...

This post clarifies the feeling I had in doing the "Road Not Taken" journey of not really wanting to choose, & wondering why I couldn't have both mutually exclusive choices. I pacified myself with knowing that in this particular life I could only have one of those choices, but I could remain in contact with the Self who had made the other choice. I was still left unsatisfied, though, feeling that the choice I didn't make was still a part of me & struggling to find the words to express that. Once again your words have opened up possibilities for me. Thank you.

Robert Moss said...

Nancy - It is interesting to think that in some sense we can "have it all" and may be living many lives at the same time. Most commonly - and perhaps most usefully - we become aware of this in spontaneous sleep dreams. I found myslef in a very "just-so" experience in my dreams last night at which I was at an elaborate dinner party in London, where I once livedc, leading the kind of life I might well have been living had I pursued a different path. What clearly marekd this as a parallel reality dream, rather than, say, a precog dream, was the presence of a family member who died several years ago. The feeling was NOT of an encounter on the Other Side, but of a parallel event track in which she escaped dying at a tragically early age.

Nicola said...

Hi Robert
Watching a re run of the movie The Matrix on TV this week, the words that are spoken by the African Black Woman, who is " The Oracle " stick in my mind.
I can't remember the exact words; but it goes something like this;-
"It has already happened, now all you need to to is to understand why"
However; the fatal ending to the movie (The death of his lover) is altered by his intervention, and we are left wondering if Trinity, his love; which to me evokes images of The Holy Grail, survives or not.
This backwards, forwards version of fate sits quite well with how I percieve a certain "truth", where our lives are predestined and yet at the same time we can alter the outcome.
These paths untaken offer reasurance and a chance to try out a kind of "Ground Hog" retake on our lives. However, in reality I can't help but feel as if the conclusion has already been reached and that we are actually unraveling our piece of string back in time in an attempt to understand our true selves and destiny.

Robert Moss said...

Hi Nicola - You give a more coherent summary of that aspect of "The Matrix" than I think I could manage. I'll note that the Oracle is revealed - in a later movie in the series - to be less than trustworthy (she is herself a "program"). While I greatly enjoyed the original "Matrix" film, I don't want to go there for my models of reality.

My choice is to act on the principle that we always have frede will, and the ability to choose and to change our destinies. I am also interested in recognizing and working the quantum "observer effect" on the scale of our human lives - i.e., applying the principle that the act of observation changes what is being viewed, and may actually pluck a specific event out of a quantum soup of possibilities.

Truly this is a limitless adventure...

Worldbridger said...

When I was 21(In 1970) I was offered the position of Principal dancer in Cologne by a man I highly respected, a wonderful ballet teacher, a very inspiring person. However, I chose instead to go with a small group of friends to Vancouver BC to start a new ballet company.

The ballet company in BC turned out to be such a disaster that after two years I gave up dancing entirely. I had always wondered what might have happened if I had taken the job in Cologne.

Some years ago I discovered that the person who had invited me to Cologne had himself left the company after only two years and that the same situation would probably have transpired no matter where I had gone.

It is clear to me now that the dancing part of my life was only meant for a certain purpose and when that had been fulfilled it was no longer necessary.

I wonder if greater themes can be revealed by this alternative processing concept?

Betsey said...

The path I wondered about the most, if I had taken it, gave me much to ponder.
I found myself looking at a black car badly damaged and a white tarp covering my body. I was in my 20's which is the age I would have chosen this path.