March 23, 2013

Where Did It All Go?

Last night, my wife and I watched a PBS fund-raiser on the happy convergence of folk singers and Greenwich Village during the the 1960s. It brought back memories of a time when we all found a way to light a candle against the darkness, be it through the songs we sang, or the clothes we wore, or the pictures we painted.

I remember a poster an old friend had pinned to the back of  a door. It showed a hippie wearing bell-bottomed jeans, standing tall against a setting sun, but instead of the usual long hair, it was flowers streaming out in a wild explosion of color. The caption on the poster read, "Where did it all go?" This was the late 80s, you see. The war was over, and so was the hippie moment. The child had grown, and the dream was gone.

Where did it all go? More importantly, why did we let it go? Was the fault in our stars or in us? Did we change the world, or did the world change us?

Into this metaphysical quandary rode the white knight of quantum physics to the rescue. Quantum physics is the business of coming up with weird answers to even weirder questions most of us don't even understand. One of the answers involves parallel universes.

To nutshell the un-nutshellable, some physicists think that every time you make a choice a new universe is created that reflects the outcome of each possible choice. So here, I do this; there, I do that. Multiverses ... that's what they call it, this idea that there could be an infinite number of possible universes somewhere ... out there ... in dimensions unseen.

So maybe out there in the multiverse is a paisley-colored sun shining on a planet where the hippies prevailed. A place where everyone sings their own song, loves one another, smokes a little dope, makes love--not war, where there are no men with guns saying beware, just people who go where they want to go and do what they want to do.

If such a parallel universe exists, a universe born directly from the dreams we let die on this one, then maybe my old friend can take some comfort in knowing that there is an answer to the question on the poster. Where did it all go? It went to a universe he helped to create during one of those moments when anything seemed possible if you just had enough love in your heart.

That only leaves one question. Why are we here and not there? Some questions have no real answers. Unlike quantum physics, these types of unanswerable questions are usually the simplest to ask. Why is there evil? Why do bad things happen to good people? All I can say is that it seems to be in the nature of things that light and dark co-exist at all times, in all places.

My theory is that we are never left behind, that we remain linked to the universes we create through the power of entanglement, another one of those answers that quantum physics gave us to a question we didn't even know we were asking. Entanglement says that particles can interact with each other across the entire universe once they are entangled.

So maybe we are forever entangled in those parts of the multiverse we help create. And maybe when we journey into the dreaming world we are just following the threads of entangled destinies we wove. And maybe our story is sill being spun out on the looms of entangled destinies throughout the multiverse. Anyway, it's a theory.

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