Hundreds of fictions are dedicated to explore the idea of traveling back in time or living in an alternate universe. Countless people devote their energy on creating elaborate theories about multiple universes and bending time through quantum mechanics. What is behind all this frenzy?
This is it: We want to undo our mistakes.
There is nothing sophisticated or scientific or spiritual behind our desire to live anew. It is about our crude, primitive wish to fix the unfixable: past mistakes. We wish to “unwind” everything and do things differently this time, while avoiding known disasters.
Here is a paradox: if we really go back in time or switch to an alternate universe, theoretically everything we have now will be reset: our body, our belongings, our people, and our memory. For example, we might go back to the moment just before that tragic incident occurred, but then we have no idea what will happen and therefore act exactly as we did. We just replay our past. In fact, we will never realize that we actually came from the future and therefore continue to live our life (and wish to fix our mistakes).
But if the pain of living with a tragic incident is too strong, is it still better to just escape back into the past, live in a different world, or even erase parts of our memory? I would say no: as sweet as the life of our “innocent” days sounds, it is the awareness we earn from our mistakes that give depth and meaning to our life. Sadly, we are hard-wired to not know what precious thing we have until we lose that.
Insights: that is one thing we cannot gain in the alternative world. In that world, we know nothing. We do not know how beautiful those moments were, because we took them for granted. We do not know how precious those people were, because we did not know we loved them. We do not know how important those moments were, because we thought nothing stopped our path ahead.
Will we be really happy in the other world? Maybe not, because we don’t know how to appreciate the precious things we already have in our life. Not knowing the pain of separation means not knowing the joy of unity. Do we seriously want that?