Monday, March 1, 2010

IfI'da (by Billy Coffey)

I interrupt this blog post to wish my friend and sister in snark Marni from The Chronicles of Marnia a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Okay, go ahead Billy...


image courtesy of photobucket.com

The C always showed up on my report card for my science classes. I was neither interested nor gifted in that area of study. And those Cs always bothered me. It meant I was neither great nor awful, just right in the meaty part of average. I hated that. I hated science.

But now I’m thinking differently. Science may well be on its way to solving a lot of what’s been bothering me over the years, especially when it comes to the IfI’da Principle.

I’ve suffered with this condition for quite a while.

As near I can tell, it began in the fourth grade and involved the Lorie, the pretty brunette who sat in front of me. My first true crush. Since I was hopelessly inept in all things romantic, my true feelings went unsaid. She was snatched away from me on the playground by another boy in another class. And I remember sitting there with a kickball in my hand thinking, If would have said something first, maybe I’d be holding her hand right now.

There are other instances. There was the time in high school when I struck out with the bases loaded in the state championship baseball game, the first time I’d struck out all year. And also the high school dance when I tripped over a microphone wire and spilled punch on my date. There was my decision not to go to college, too.

Of course I don’t wonder only about the things that went wrong. I wonder of the good things, too—of my decision to start writing, of falling in love once and for all, and of my kids. In each case I’ve caught myself at some point wondering the same thing:

If I would have made a different decision or acted a different way, how would my life have worked out?

Over the years that question has been pared down to the bare essentials. “If I would have” became “If I’d have,” which became “IfI’da.”

As in, What would have happened IfI’da?

By and large our lives are not shaped by the jobs we have or the people we surround ourselves with. They are instead the product of an endless line of the small and large choices that we’ve made every moment of every day from our beginning until this moment. Decisions more than destiny determine our lot in life. I really do believe that. Our genes, our upbringing, and our faith can either prop us up or knock us down, but in the end our lives are still our own. Though I believe God to be utterly unsurprised at where I am and where I’ll be, I like to think I’ve come this way by His guidance and my own choices rather than pulled along by the hand of fate.

If I happen to be wrong with all of that, I’ll gladly say so. But if I’m right, then that means the decisions I make every day are pretty important things. Maybe the biggest things. Even the smallest acts can have lasting consequences, both good and bad. Which leads to a great deal of wondering on my part..

Which is where science comes in.

It’s called The Multiverse Theory of Quantum Physics. Dumbed down so I can understand it, the theory goes something like this: each choice we make in life creates an entirely separate universe in which the opposite choice was made. Which means that everything that can happen has happened somewhere.

I’m wondering about all those other me’s out there. Wondering what they’re doing, who they are. And most importantly, if they’re happier than I am.

In some other universe there is a Billy Coffey who confessed his love to Lorie in the third grade, who did not trip over that microphone wire, and who did not strike out with the bases loaded.

He sounds like a good guy. Like a guy who’s got it together.

But I suppose there is another me somewhere out there who has it much worse than I. A Billy Coffey whose choices were much poorer and resulted in much more regret than my own. I think of him, too.

All of this has brought a much-needed sense of balance to my existence. There may in fact be other me’s out there better and more well-adjusted. But if that’s true, then there are other me’s who are not.

Which may well mean that in all the universes in existence, I occupy the meaty part of average. Neither great nor awful.

I can live with that.

***

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

13 comments:

Marty Duane said...

Beautifully penned. I also have that rare medical disease of the "Ifi'da's"

But I've come to the realization that every decision composes the person I've become, and for that, I'm thankful. Do I regret some aspects of my life? Yes, I do. Would I change them? I don't know. Somehow, I can look through other's eyes as they watch my life, and I no longer feel compelled to be different.

Afterall, I have it much better than most of the Marty Duane's out there. :)

-Marty

P.S. This little window into Billy's life was intriguing, and I realized I can relate to you in everything you said!

Lianne said...

If you had posted this in 2004, I wouldn't have had to spend the last six years trying to figure out that "LOST" tv show. :)

When I get caught up in the "If I'das," I just think about Romans 8:28 and remember that everything happens for a reason--to bring glory to God.

Jim H said...

why do I have this sudden urge to read a Robert Heinline book?
Excellent post, Billy!

The "Quiet" One... said...

It's been a while since I've visited. I'm glad I decided to stop by today. Wonder what I would have read ifi'da... :) Happy Monday.

Bridget Chumbley said...

Regrets... can't live with em, can't live without em.

Lots of thoughts to ponder in this great post, Billy.

Helen said...

I remember when I was young, and I believed that if I obeyed my parents, and did my best for them as they aged, I'd be able to have no regrets when they passed.
HAH! To live is to make choices, and to make choices is to one day have regrets.

♥ Kathy said...

I love this! What a great post! And Happy Birthday Marni!

jasonS said...

This is sort of interesting, but I can't really think of a time recently when I've felt that overwhelming sense of "If I had chosen..." Now, I do that with my screw-ups, blow-ups, and failures, but more of my energy gets spent on "I could do..." as in where I'm headed in the future. I can come up with so many possibilities that I can get paralyzed sometimes. Anyway, interesting to think about, thanks Billy (and Kat).

Bonnie Gray said...

Beautifully penned - like Marty says.

You are very much the philosopher -- it's not right or wrong, black or right -- our decisions or God's.

There's a lot of looking back for me, too. This posts definitely gave me a different handle, to take my thoughts in a different direction.

Much obliged, Billy!

Janet Oberholtzer said...

I have two sons in college - so they've educated me :) about The Multiverse Theory of Quantum Physics and we've had interesting convos about that. And now it's become a joke of sorts at times ... if one of us disagrees with the other, we'll say that we're going to the other universe to see how things are working out there.

I like this thought in your post- "Though I believe God to be utterly unsurprised at where I am and where I’ll be, I like to think I’ve come this way by His guidance and my own choices rather than pulled along by the hand of fate."

A Simple Country Girl said...

More me's in a whole other universe?! Uh, I don't like the sounds of that. Not at all! And I don't even want to know if I can go take a little peeky-lou at what she is doing.

I reckon sticking with His plan in His universe is the best solution to it all. Perhaps I am a loner in this (well that wouldn't be the first time), but I don't wanna know ANY of the If'I'da deals.

Here is where I am. Here is where God has me. One day, we will all know all. Until then, I reckon any physics-related knowledge will fare better in someone else's head. Thank you very much!

..that wasn't a soap box, just a bewildered box...just thinkin' out loud.

Blessings.

L.T. Elliot said...

I have to agree with Marty. Beautifully penned, Billy. As always.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Great thoughts - ones I have often visited myself.