What makes for a full summer?
Canadians have maybe three to four months’ worth of warm, summer-like weather for the most part. What that creates in some of us is a quiet awareness in the background of our daily experience that borders on anxiety. It goes something like this: let us take in the pool, the patio, the cottage, and the sun while we can, for tomorrow we freeze.
That would explain the sudden spike in FOMO during the warmer months.
As I write this sentence, I’m sitting at my dining room table as Labour Day afternoon gives way to Labour Day evening. A towel has been wrapped around my waist for the past hour, having gotten out of the complex swimming pool just in time to grab a cold beer and barbecue some sirloin and sliced zucchini. Outside, a warm and heavy breeze is blowing through the trees while I wait for the lifeguard to return from dinner break and re-open the pool for what I suspect will be the last time this season. Afterwards, I’m contemplating a walk over to Dairy Queen with my dog and sitting under the old tree overlooking a nearby park as the sun comes down. Maybe with a good book.
Labour Day 2015 had a lot of things happening in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area. Other options I could have taken today include:
– Taken the train to Fan Expo and gotten my nerd-on with thousands of other Toronto-area geeks clamouring down the parking garage entrance to the Metro Convention Centre.
– Taken the train to the Canadian National Exhibition (a.k.a the CNE or “The Ex” for you non-Toronto folk) and risked my life by riding hastily assembled rollercoasters and eating delicious fried foods.
– Hung out anywhere near the lakeshore to watch the Air Show.
– Gone to see the Jays play.
– Headed down the road to Hamilton to watch the Ti-Cats play in the Labour Day special with my Hamilton crew.
– Probably at least two dozen other things happening in the area within an hour’s drive.
I did none of those things. Instead, I stayed home in glorious A/C, editing and writing for my clients and cleaning up a bit. And feeling a bit guilty for not making the most out of the last “official” day of summer in the process, especially after my Facebook and Instagram feeds exploded with pics of people enjoying all of those things. That’s what the FOMO does.
A SUMMER OF MISSED OPPORTUNITIES?
Back last winter, when my head was filled with possibilities of instant riches and massive immediate success, I pictured that this summer would have been THE season in which I would have waves of ridiculous wealth coming in with little to no work (or at least work that felt like “work”).
And to be sure, I came pretty damn close, drawing in an abundance of work and money…but it was all massively time consuming. I had to evolve a level of personal organization that was beyond what I wanted to have, and what the ended up looking like was Jody at his laptop for most of his day and evening.
The impact was that I essentially became a hermit, and I got so busy that I missed out on two great times with my friends: my Fraternity chapter’s weekend retreat at an amazing cottage in Huntsville; and my buddy Marc’s 30th birthday in Toronto.
At times like these, the FOMO flares up, and its unanswerable question lingers in my mind: am I making the most of the summer? This question isn’t the question, though: it’s the lead-in to the bigger question: am I making the most of my life?
Enter Walter Bishop
With the free time I did have during late nights or lazy weekend mornings, I got into the ABC show “Fringe” via Netflix. My housemate Dani said that her previous housemate had described the show as “drugs”, and I can see why. I was enthralled, especially with the second season’s storyline involving an alternate universe overlapping ours in which the 9/11 attacks took place only in Washington, leaving the Twin Towers standing; zeppelins regularly dock at the Empire State Building’s observation deck; and personal computing is so advanced that there hasn’t been a ballpoint pen made for decades. I was hooked.
The multiverse, however, is certainly not a new concept to me. The whole premise of my novel “Convergence” is built on the possibilities of overlapping alternate realities created by our choices. But the multiverse is definitely taking off in popular culture. There’s even a whole New Age practice called quantum jumping, in which you can psychically “connect” with your alternate in a parallel universe who has everything that you want and whose knowledge and skills you can access, sort of like a certain Jet Li movie, but without any killing.
But if every choice generates its own universe, as spiritual thinkers and cutting-edge astrophysicists alike argue is the case, then there’s absolutely no need for FOMO. There is no missing out.
Everything All The Time
Think about it. FOMO, by its very nature, implies that our choices are necessary limits to the full experience of life. But within a multiverse perspective, it’s impossible NOT to experience everything fully, because the alternate versions of ourselves, when viewed as a collective being, are doing that all the time.
Okay, Mr. Smartypants, I’m sure you’re thinking, then maybe this little version of me isn’t so happy with the prospect of not having taken that trip to Paris. I could give a crap about what the Alternate Me has done about it. What about the individual in this universe?
Frankly, the individual in this universe can chill the fuck out.
Choice is a privilege that many people don’t have. I think on a certain level, we’re all aware of this, which is why we are so preoccupied with screwing it up. We value choice as a precious resource. However, there is no screwing it up. Every possibility gets fulfilled in the multiverse theory. More than that, there are now ways emerging in advanced spiritual practice – I’m sure theoretical physics will catch up to this as well – that claim to allow you to shift your experience into a universe that you actually want to experience.
And here’s the kicker: if such practices work, be they science or pseudoscience-based, we’ll never know, because they involve shifting the reality around us, the water in which we swim. Any experimentation to verify a shift into a new universe would have to take place outside linear time, a capability that we are still thousands of years away from having.
Quantum jumping seems to be the closest to communicating with the alternate universes, though from what little I know of it, it seems to be that you only get little snippets of the alternate you’s insights, not the full enchilada of his or her experience.
Still, simply the knowledge that there is, somewhere out there in the firmament, a reality in which you did take that trip to Laos, or didn’t screw it up with that girl, or stayed in that job…that knowledge should bring you comfort. And if it’s not enough, it should at least show you the importance of self-exploration, for that appears to be the access to experiencing the other “yous”.
Once, my favourite author since childhood, Whitley Strieber, had asked in meditation to see different worlds. You can peruse his life’s work at his website for a more vivid picture of what that looks like. The Coles Notes version: he got to experience, in deep meditation and dreaming, what it would be like to be another version of him living in versions of Earth much different than this one. If it worked for him, why not for me? For you?
If anything, both FOMO and the possibility of the multiverse in which all choices get made should give us pause to appreciate the present.
And what about the last of summer? In recent years, I’ve found autumn to be something of a relief, not just from heat, but from pressure: namely, the FOMO. When the hot sunny days are here, unique opportunities for a full experience of life present themselves, especially in a city where those opportunities only have a life span of a third of a year.
Now that we’re in the last of these hot days, when some sanity and productivity returns to the population’s sensibilities, the feeling will fade. Soon, sitting insife to do my life’s work won’t seem an imposition to the temporary delights of Now lurking outside my door.