I mean, what are the chances?
It was my birthday last month and my son bought me a copy of Matt Haig’s latest novel The Midnight Library.
The book deals with topics that Matt has covered in the past – mental health and different worlds being central themes.
I won’t attempt a book review as it would poor and, if you are interested you can find one on the Guardian website.
The book however examines the phenomenon of multiple universes.
Now, I don’t intend or aspire to explain at all what this it, suffice it to say, the theory relates to that area of, I think, astrophysics where wormholes and time-travel are a thing.
Thankfully the book doesn’t delve into the physics, more operating at the level of Back to the Future and flux capacitors.
Within the theory of multiple, if not infinite universes is the idea that at this very moment there are an infinite number of universes where Rod is sitting typing at a computer and, beyond this, there is a Rod who is slightly different, shorter, taller, with more or less hair on his head, that kind of thing – when you have infinities you don’t have to economise on options.
The novel is the story of Nora, a woman who is so fed-up with her life that she wants to end it all; the library is a portal into multiple different universes where her life might have gone differently; in one she is an Olympic swimmer, another a rock star and another a regular mum with husband and small child.
I loved it.
What is perhaps odder is that as I finished the book, I started watching a Catalan Mini-Series on Netflix called, ‘If I hadn’t met you’ – and, surprise that is also a multiple universe story, revolving around the main character Eduard and his attempts to not have his wife and children die.
This series I have found particularly poignant (?) given the combination of the universes with the romantic ideal.
When I was young and hanging out with my grandfather – Papa, he would spend much of his time when not watching Countdown or the horse racing reading large-print romantic novels.
I’m similar although the book print is regular size.
I know this is a silly happenstance coincidence, yet it is comforting.
Had my son not bought the book (this is the first birthday book he has ever bought me) and had I not selected that programme on Netflix (I have never watched anything in Catalan before) I wouldn’t be writing this now.
I know everyone’s life is full of these Roads Less Travelled, I guess some spend more time reflecting on ‘what if’ than others.
This is not to say, when I mull that I am unhappy with where I am. I am delighted at my current situation, yet, it does no harm to speculate, to dream.
In my alternative worlds I became an Israeli spy, in another a novelist; in another I am a beachcomber somewhere in the Pacific.
Candide, existing in the best of all possible worlds probably didn’t stop to reflect. It seems the long winter nights make this more real.
The joy of imagination and other worlds.