Our Life: “Missed” Opportunities

By Marissa Mitchell

I used to think it was a shame when everything good that could happen, didn’t happen.

Meaning, every time that I had an opportunity or potential opportunity present itself before me, if I did not avail myself of it, well, that was a shame. It was a waste. It was something to bemoan and regret.

Oftentimes I’ve wished to split myself into ten different “me”s and act (or re-enact, if I have regrets) out scenarios, so that I could choose the best one, the better one. Which one leads to the happiest life? Which one brings long-lasting fulfillment? Which one gives the most joy? I choose that one.

Musing upon (perhaps imaginary) “lost” opportunities, or simply wondering “what if” something different would have happened, whether on the part of my own, another, or naturally, has eaten away many a moment in my life. Many a dream. Many a memory. Haunted by the “could have been”s is not a pleasant activity to frequently engage in, nor is the constant fretting over if “this” is the “right” decision or not.

Let’s get scientific. Every event, in quantum mechanics, exists as a wave function. The Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics is a mainstream interpretation – namely, that a function (i.e., event) only “collapses” once an observer (such as you or I) enters the scenario. Thus, one outcome is realized. And we, most evidently, have a say in those outcomes. We are the captains of our own ships.

On the other hand, the Many Worlds theory (not that I ascribe to this theory, but it is thought-provoking) states that since this wave function theoretically never collapses, every single possible outcome of any which event is actualized in a distinct reality parallel to our own. So, maybe, somewhere, we already have chosen that “other” path and are finding out exactly how it is turning out.

“Could have been” is an obsolete and useless term and way of thinking, I have come to find. It is only in the here and now that anything at all is realized, that anything of value is decided. The moments that we have shared with others are precious, and while the “what-if”s may haunt us, the river has run a course for a reason.

Perhaps we chose it that way.