This is what happens when I don’t go out on a Saturday night and get a couple of hours to myself. Things get deep. I’ve wondered, on more than one occasion, whether I feel like I’m missing out because there are just some things I will never get to experience. There are parallel lifetimes and scenarios that others have either found the path onto or been born into – Over 7 billion of them. Choices and our own free will can shape our futures as much as we like but, as adventurous as we are, one lifetime simply can not provide us with a taste of everything.
I know it sounds greedy. It’s like looking at the menu in a restaurant and gradually having to limit your choices to just a few options despite the fact the whole selection looks delicious. We accept the fact we can not try them all but even as we leave the table with a full belly there is a moment of wonder, sometimes doubt, over whether the choice you discarded would have suited your tastes better.
I don’t even necessarily always wonder over fantasy scenarios of wealth, easy-living and tropical climates. This fear of missing out mainly dissatisfies me purely because I have a hunger to know everything about everything which leads me to construct lifestyles in my head that I will never (and maybe don’t even want to) live. I’m extremely happy and secure with where I am in my own life but how rewarding would it be just to understand and empathize with a completely different existence? I’ll never know what it’s like to be born into a country on the other side of the world, to work in the Victorian era or to be a child star in Hollywood movies. I’m not saying I want any of those things, just that it feels weird that there is an infinity of existences so different to my own that I’ve not experienced. I’m the sort of person who will glimpse a stranger on a train and immediately concoct a story in my head of how they came to be here, what their childhood was like, the cause for that scar on their hand. I know it’s silly to make assumptions and I can guarantee I’m wrong every time, but my craving for insight weaves these elaborate works of fiction as a means to satisfy me.
If we really think about it we all probably feel the same hunger, whether we recognize it or not. Why else would we read books and watch films if not to immerse ourselves in existences we will never know, fictional or not? By instinct we seek to understand others, consequently lapping up sensory descriptions of how things feel, how they look, the emotions they evoke.
The wonder of over 7 billion existences, all different to my own, makes me feel both significant and insignificant. Significant because I am amidst that number, setting footsteps and taking paths that nobody will ever be able to trace in this exact way; insignificant because I can’t even comprehend the magnitude of the things I will never know. Tastes, sounds, sights, memories, all unique to each lifetime.
With all this in mind it makes me feel we need to be more conscious of each experience presented to us, good or bad, because in just one lifetime filled with only a limited number of them, shouldn’t we embrace each and every one offered to us? Feel things in their entirety, say yes more often. Overwhelm yourself with fantasies of all the adventures you may never have but don’t forget to amaze yourself with the ones that you do. Over 7 billion existences in the world today, not to mention all those that came before and are yet to come, and one of them is all yours.