This will sound weird to many, but when I was at my lowest and scrambling to find a way back one of my motivations was the thought of a multiverse.
For those unfamiliar, the multiverse theory posits that there is an infinite number of universe each with a subtle variation of reality. Basically, that means there is an infinite number of H’s, each experiencing subtle gradations of reality, but expanding from that, so on one universe H might be president, another he is long dead, and another he’s fat and married, and everything in between. There are more extreme versions of this theory that suggest that every time we make a decision a new branch of reality is created – in one reality we choose to go right, and in the other left, and so on and so forth in a mind-numbing variety of infinite combinations. That’s difficult to get your head around – but oh so fascinating.
I’m not sure if I buy into these ideas, but only because they seem so wild. A part of me wants to believe – the same part that wants to believe in werewolves and vampires and life after death because, how cool would that be?
So anyway, picture H homeless and near bereft of home laying on a couch feeling all sorry for himself, and into this blank mind there drifts the thought of the multiverse. And H, miserable and pathetic, wonders how the other versions of he are going. One must be a hero by now, he figures. Another at least must have had his dreams and hopes fulfilled. And sure, there are doubtless a few doing it hard as well – but they’re not our concern. And as H ponders this he finds himself getting competitive with himself – that good old competitive spirit, as reliable as the rising sun.
But really, how weird is it? But does it matter? It doesn’t. And H lying on somebody else’s couch figures that even if there are infinite versions of him spread across these universe, this one is his responsibility. And damned if he doesn’t want his version to be one of the failures. No sirree. Not this H.
And that’s how it was: I didn’t want my story to end like that. Even more so, I wanted to turn everything around, wanted – having plumbed the depths – to rise again, wanted for that to be the story of this version of me. And that’s what I want still, and I guess I’m about a third of the way there – and the last third will be the toughest.
This I remember now having met last night with a man I’ve known for 30 years, a man I started off working with way back then together with a bunch of other callow types embarking on a career in banking, surrounded by hard-bitten, hard-drinking, hard-smoking types, and typists – literally, typists! – sitting in every pod to pretty up the sundry reports and proposals we put together. I was in my element there because I could be cocky and competitive and I felt it burgeoning in me as if something I was always meant to be. My friend P, the guy I met with last night, was short but pretty, with a mop of long dark hair he swept across the top of his head and fixed there with product. He was always dressed immaculately, and often seen reading The Face. His family was from Toorak, and he had the manner of a man who took privilege as his due, though none of us ever took offence at this. Ironic it is that he was not a close fit for the office culture, which was rough and ready and often pretty raw – yet he has never left it, while I’ve travelled the seven seas since.
That was a theme of the conversation last night, how he had remained – he’s worked at all the big banks now – while I had gone off until the bank seemed a small thing in the deep past. He is married, has three children, including the youngest who has Downs syndrome and cancer. After I opened up to him about some of my story he did the same with me, explaining how he had a period of unemployment, and telling the tale of his parents, defrauded by their daughter. Like I say, everyone has a story.
He was always cautious, tempted, but ultimately would step back. I was the person who would step forward, and in our intertwined tales last night he was a little envious of the life he imagined I have lived, while I was wistful at the life I forwent, the life such as what he has.
Now, of course, I have the opportunity to establish something new – my life has forked since that moment on the couch, but there are the other two thirds to achieve, part of which are the close things he takes for granted, but which I lack. This reality isn’t done yet.