Parallel Lives

In science, there is a theory of multiple universes, sometimes known as the many-worlds interpretation. I do not understand fully the mathematics of it but the concept behind it is intriguing. Many-worlds proposes that all possible alternate histories and futures are real. I would like to amplify this in a few ordinary events of our lives.

When I was in elementary school, my classmate neighbors would usually come and play in our house. One afternoon we could not agree who’s going to play “American soldiers” and “Japanese soldiers” in our usual “baradilan” game. Boy and myself had already played “Japs” yesterday, and Oro and Lex did not want to play “Japs” this time. So we played tag instead.

After playing tag, it was my usual routine to wash my feet in our faucet in the grassy area of our garden. While doing this I felt like I stepped on something. Suddenly I saw something slither through the grass. It happened so fast that when I continued to wash my feet I noticed two tiny punctures on my right ankle. “Snakebite!” I told myself.

Because my parents were not home yet I hurriedly ran to my grandparents’ house.

“Lola! I was bitten by a snake!” Grandmother quickly examined my foot. “Can you identify how the snake looked like?” “No, Lola!”

Grandmother quickly ordered their household help, Ismael, to carry me piggy back and proceed to the “para tambal” (herbalist / quack doctor) in Calauag St., a few blocks away from our house in Bagumbayan. She did not want me to walk or move too much. It could spread the venom.

I did not feel any pain and all I can remember about the incident was the “para tambal” spitting on some crushed charcoal and placing the charcoal in my puncture while uttering some incantation. Now here’s my two cents’ on the many-worlds question:

What if I died at that tender age? How would a world without me have affected all the people I have crossed paths with, including my spouse? Definitely my wife would be living a different life. Friends whom I hired in my former job would be working elsewhere. Perhaps my intramurals team would not have won in my junior and senior HS? And I also wonder who may have played my role as “Judge Blakely” in our HS annual play? Plus a host of other events may have happened differently in the lives of others.

I am reminded of what my father once asked: what if his former friend the late hero Winceslao Vinzons had not been killed in WW II? He very likely would have been the first Bicolano President of the Philippines. Or is he actually the first Bicolano President, but in a parallel universe?

I am reminded of a Filipino colleague at work when I first came to the US. Every time he’d encounter problems at work he would always confide to me that he should have just stayed in the Philippines, where life was easier. “What if I never left the Philippines?” had become his mantra. But what if he never had left the Philippines, but in a parallel universe?

I guess many of us have asked the same question: “What if we never left our country?” This question crossed my mind many years ago. Would I still have met my spouse? If we follow the many-worlds theory, yes. You see, the saying goes that if you were really meant for each other, you will definitely meet, even if the other party lived on the moon. I have often heard these catchphrases: if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen; when it’s your time, it’s your time. In one reality. In another, another history unfolds.

I am early for service this morning. The choir is practicing their gospel songs. My wife is again reading the scriptures from her iphone while I continue to meditate and relax. I bow my head and share with the Lord these things that are running in my head. What if I never found you, Lord?

I continue my meditation and think about my articles for the Bicol Mail. What other things would I be doing if I did not accept the BM’s offer for a column? Will I still pursue my weekly writing? Now, a couple of questions comes to mind: will people like my column? Will they read my articles?

All these questions are actually irrelevant to me as I pause and reflect. Frankly, it does not matter whether people read my article or not. It does not matter if I get a zero “like” on FB each time I post an article. What is 10,000 “likes” on FB if what I write does not please the Lord? That is important to me, in any reality.

My wife ribs me. She thinks I am sleeping again. Everyone rises for the start of service, while the choir sings “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

I am sure it is also being sung in some other universe or universes.