There are theories in physics that suggest that we live in a multidimensional universe. Imagine being able to see these universes multiplying every time we make a choice. Even the most basic of choices divide our life path in some way, sometimes in very major ways. In chaos theory it is called the ‘butterfly effect’.
In dreamtime, moving back along the visible trace that has been my life path, I see branches, hundreds at a time, thin as silk, coming in from different directions, and like a squirrel, I am moving down the branches of some sort of gossamer tree toward the ground.
At the point where I am about age eleven, I see a new branch has developed where one was never seen before. As though a force field exists, I am forbidden from following along that new branch or any branch that is not my life path. It must be that those branches hold a new me, where I went after the last encounter with my future self. It appears I will never know what became of that dear child whose life I touched in dreams.
Heading back upward toward the present, I see a place where the branching is slightly heavier (they are all heavy, but this is even more complex). Looking in, it becomes obvious this is the time at the end of high school. Here was the time when in my personal path, I resolved to become a ‘real man’, put away all of those childish fantasies and get on with life. It was the start of the great denial.
Moving down just a bit, I joined a dream the young man was having… then again, maybe a nightmare because where the boy had made a pristine high-rise with a view to die for, here was a dark warehouse.
One bare light bulb allowed me to see dozens of men who I knew at that time. Each of them seemed to be in the process of rehearsing lines; repeating the same words and gestures over and over. Most were clones of family members and friends from school who I had admired. Strangest of all, the fictional alien, Mr Spock from Startrek, was standing and looking about him in his very unemotional way.
Huddled in a corner was a child; no, not a child but an emaciated young woman who looked very much as the boy had looked. Her curly blond hair was a mess. As she looked up, it was obvious she recognized me, but she just sat there, staring at me, or maybe she was looking past me because behind me I heard a young man’s voice ask, “who are you?”
“You don’t recognize me?” I said as I ‘shape-shifted’ into my current façade and turned to face my younger self.
“Well, you look a bit like my grandfather who died last year.”
Dad’s father had been incapacitated by a stroke when I was five. I had never had a conversation with him, but yes, as a man of almost sixty, I guess my appearance is quite amazingly like his at that age. “You are getting warm." Moving closer I put my hand out to him and thought, 'here we go'. "I am you, or at least one of the many possible versions of you that inhabit the future. Think of me as a ‘future ghost’ if you like.”
“Man, that is so cool. What a great dream this is. You are just in time; maybe you can help me to sort things out here.”
“Quite an interesting collection of personalities you keep here, isn’t it.” It was a bit eerie the way all of those actors wondered about like zombies. “So, remind me, because it has been a while for me, what are they all about, from your point of view?” I already had a pretty good idea what he might say as these were members of the same tired cast that got put out of work when my new façade was getting built.
“Well, like everyone, I need to be able to handle any situation that comes up, you know, and act the way I should when stuff is happening.”
“So you think everyone has this sort of collection, eh” He nodded his 'yes' as I continued. “Maybe you could give me an example? What is Mr. Spock doing here?”
He looked pretty sheepish, then firmed up and almost blurted “Well, he is here because I get way too emotional sometimes and I’m afraid people will think I am a girl or something, so Mr. Spock is the most controlled personality I can draw on to help me act naturally.”
I almost snickered but then remembered that this was me, and that was what I honestly worried about at that time. “Act naturally? You think being like a fictional alien is better than being yourself when you start to get emotional?”
“Sure, it's way better.” He paused, reflected a bit, then continued. “So, you know how my plan to reinvent ourselves is going to work out. What should I do to improve it?”
Remembering what had happened and it's consequences, a plan started to form that might help turn this young man’s ship at least a few degrees off of collision course. “Hmm, maybe you could answer one more question first, O.K?”
“I’ve been looking around and I cannot help but wonder, because I know we have a pretty healthy sex drive; which one of these ‘actors’ is in charge of that?”
“None of them actually. I take care of the talking and thinking part myself. I have to keep control of it since the sort of things we enjoy are pretty weird; nobody would understand if they found out. The little boy behind you who I have mostly outgrown is the one who really enjoys sex. I am the one who understands how serious the consequences are, so I keep a lid on things.”
Here was the center of the problem in a nutshell. I remembered that I had actually believed that my most basic and primal needs were wrong and had thought I needed to suppress them. I had re-invented myself completely and because of initial successes had lived an outwardly ‘normal’ life. The inner drive slowly but inevitably re-emerged and nearly drove me insane as it made me think I was some sort of incurable deviant, living a secret double life.
“Dear boy, I cannot tell you what you should do, but I will tell you a few things I have found to be true. In time, soon in fact, you will find that there are only two good reasons for doing just about anything. Either it teaches you something, or it is fun to do. Anything else is necessary in order to be able to do those things. It is important for you to see that ‘little boy’ you speak of as your best friend; a fun-loving, adventurous half of your complex, wonderful personality. He, SHE in fact, sees the big picture, and knows what you really are, and what you really need. Together you are an awesome person. Alone, as half a person, you will find misery. I know why you have brought in this collection of actors, but you really don’t need them if you have her.”
He looked doubtfully at this old person telling him his existence over the last five years had been misguided. “I have been so lonely inside, trying to make things work. I was sure in order to become an adult what I needed to do was put away the childish ideas so I could be accepted as a strong, serious man; someone others could put their trust in.”
“You are strong and intelligent and reliable, but because you have never listened to that childlike voice you have never seen that having fun is not evil. Sex isn't just procreation. It is an essential part of being a whole person. What you need desperately is another human being with whom you can share your sense of what is interesting and fun; a person to share a relationship of love and support . By re-inventing yourself, you are creating a wonderful, but phony person. You will use him to find a lover, yes, but that woman will love who you seem to be. She will share and support the goals you pretend to have. They won’t be far off the mark, but far enough, and the person you really are will gradually emerge from this denial you are contemplating. That real person will come as a surprise and will cause divisions within you and in your marriage too as you struggle to keep up appearances. Even if you survive, as my sweetie and I have done so far by great luck and hard work together, it will cost you and that wonderful, trusting lady dearly.”
Looking at me and smiling he said. "We find a soulmate?"
"Yes, she and I have had a wonderful life, but through the years, our relationship has had many rocky times because of my deception; the same deception you are now considering.
He looked past me at young Halle. “You say that child who keeps messing things up by his emotional behavior is important and you call him a girl? That can't be right. Girls don’t like sex and he loves sex and doesn’t take any of it seriously. I have to hide what he makes us want to do. We have had all kinds of close calls thanks to him.”
“Please accept what I say now on faith, because in time it will be confirmed by experience. Out there are lots of women who will think this little girl’s wildest fantasies are very tame. If you can become one person, and live true to yourself, you will attract like-minded women who will love your kind, caring nature as well as your ability to fantasize.” I looked back at my young Halle smiling at me as I spoke. “Don’t you dare shut her away. Learn to love your whole self, as you are.”
As I moved out of that dream, I could see the zombie-like actors blinking out, one by one, until only the young man and the young girl were still there. The scene seemed to brighten too; no longer the warehouse, but a place with vistas, all kinds of possibilities opening. As I pulled back out of the scene, I saw new branches, a myriad of them, appearing on my gossamer tree.