Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler…
Right there, in the three opening lines, the speaker laments the fact that he has to choose a path at all. Further along in the poem, the sadness of having to choose is made even more explicit.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
It’s an idea that has always stuck with me, this notion that choosing one path in life necessarily closes you off another. What if all paths are just as good? What are we missing out on?
In THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR, both Natasha and Daniel struggle with choices—the ones they make and the ones that are forced upon them. What if you make the wrong choice? What will it mean for your future? What if you can’t ever recover from it?
But sometimes a choice is less dramatic than that. Let’s say you’re choosing between two equally good jobs. Perhaps either of these paths will lead to good, even great outcomes. Maybe in one future you’re happily married with two kids. Maybe in the other future you remain single and are perfectly happy traveling the world. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to experience both lives?
Science-minded Natasha knows that there’s a scientific solution to the dilemma of choice and it’s the quantum theory of multiverses. Basically, the theory posits that a universe exists for every choice you make and every choice you don’t. Imagine myriad universes expanding out like the branches of a tree. Imagine infinite versions of yourself.
I wrote about multiverses because it’s an elegant scientific theory that explains how the universe works while touching on a very human problem: the dilemma of choice. For Daniel, a universe of endless possibilities is thrilling.
For Natasha, it is maddening.