The world went about its business for a long time before I came into it. People were born, and played, and cried, and worked, and dreamed, and suffered, and loved, and grew old, and died before I took my first breath.
I don’t know how many people there were before me. I don’t even know how many people there are now. With any luck, the people who come after me will far, far outnumber the people who came before me, and they will spread throughout the universe.
It would be interesting to be able to look into the minds of the people who came before me, whether they were in Rome, Greece, Egypt, India, China, the Americas, or anywhere else. I know I enjoy it when the weather is pleasant, and I can look out over beautiful scenery. I expect that the people who came before me felt the same. I would like to be able to see the world from their points of view, and to feel what they felt.
I’d prefer not to know what they felt when they suffered, although if I could feel their suffering then I might have difficulty turning my attention away from it. The human experience is a fascinating one even when it is unpleasant; sometimes especially then, I must admit.
A specific sperm cell had to fertilize a specific egg cell for me to receive life, and I had to have life in order for my children to have life. If our stream of time is the only possible stream of time, and if it were possible to go back generations in that stream and change one disaster, it might result in the world being populated today by a completely different set of people. In that case, I would let everything happen as it happened. I wouldn’t change the set of people living now for any other potential set.
If time has multiple dimensions, and if going back in time created a new stream in another dimension without affecting our current stream of time, it would be interesting to see what would have happened in alternate scenarios. I don’t expect to ever see anything like that happen, but I find it interesting to think about.
Sometimes I look at another person near me, and I try to imagine what life feels like for that person in that moment. If that person is heavier than I am, then every step and every movement that that person makes is a different experience than when I move. The same applies if the person is lighter, or taller, or shorter, or more muscular, or of a different gender, or any one or more of many possible physical differences.
I also try to sense what that person is feeling emotionally, too. Facial expressions and posture can give clues. I can never know if I’m right; in fact it may be that I’m never right, but it’s an interesting experiment nevertheless.
Some of the people that I have known have passed away. After their deaths the lives of others continued on. When I am gone, I anticipate that life will go on for others as well. Unless there is some other form of life after this one, then I’ll never know for certain what happens here after I’m gone.
The connected stream of experiences which comprise my life has felt very important to me. The streams of experiences of the vast majority of people living today have never intersected with my own, so they are currently living as if I never existed. Be that as it may, I believe that I have made a difference in the lives of some few people. Hopefully those differences were positive more often than they were negative.
Although the memories of what I’ve experienced have an expiration date, I nevertheless treasure the time I spend with my children, and with my other family members and friends. It is my sincerest hope to gather many more such memories before my days of collecting them have ended.
Barring a medical breakthrough, the number of years behind me is almost certainly greater than the number of years ahead of me. When that last day comes, whether it is today or decades from now, all of the world will once again get along without me.
For those who know me and for those who don’t, and for all of those who will come in succeeding generations, I hope that your lives will be full of love and wonder.
Copyright 2018 Mark James Wooding