In 1990, I was geared up to go into Theoretical Physics at Hampshire
College. I was encouraged greatly by an overview of a course called
“Quantum Mechanics for the Myriad” given to prospective students.
All eggs in one basket. Even then I knew better but still, excited.
Turned out the professor who gave the talk was on leave that year and I
had to make other choices. Chose child psychology type classes instead
and a little programming.
No regrets, as it gave me a greater understanding of “how people think”
generally and tied into the whole “inner child” idea that I grew up with as
“more or less fact” thanks to the “I’m ok/you’re ok” type books I remember
reading as a teenager.
Still, there was the inner Theoretical Physicist that wanted expression.
I forgot that professors name all of these years. Tripped over it today,
memories brought forward from writing about my “almost path” elsewhere
and it just so happens the title of the talk and course I wanted in 1990 *still*
exists and is taught today by the same professor at the same college and
the information *didn’t* disappear like most of the information from the
earlier Internet already has.
I saw this, and I’m proud. Herbert Bernstein. Never became my
professor. I never took the advanced mathematics and logic classes
needed. Never learned Prolog or LISP. Never learned the how-tos of
Yet the interests remained and I’d look on from the sidelines, occasionally
seeking information on these topics through the years here and there,
curious about a “could have been life”.
Again, no regrets: each choice I make and was made made me who I am
today and will become, and I’m grateful for all of it.
But there’s no harm in peeking. In this alternate reality, I can cheer on the
professor I almost had on the success he *did* have in the area I nearly
worked in and feel as if, in some way, I’m a part of it.
That’s the beauty of alternate histories and the nature of the Possible: If
you look on The Possible without regret, you can _be_ all of those people
you never were, and lead all of those lives you never led, because you
*are* all of those people and you *did* lead those lives.
In your mind. Just as we can cheer on a fictional character on a movie
screen, we can also cheer on our fictional selves, those who followed
different paths in alternate fictional realities and in the process, they too,
are cheering YOU on in your own life, for YOU are leading an alternate
reality for them and they also want you to succeed and are proud of you.
Sound nuts? It’s not. To me, it’s integration of your fictional and real selves.