February 11th, 1910, on a cold night, Sylvie Todd is in child labor waiting for the doctor to arrive during a snowstorm. But he is unable to arrive on time and the baby, Ursula Todd, dies before she could draw her first breath. However, that very same night, in an alternate version, Ursula Todd is born and along the pages of the novel Life After Life, we witness Ursula Todd growing, but also dying repeatedly in different ways across the span of her many lives, as she experiences the happenings surrounding World War II.
This is the premise used in one of my favorite novels by British author Kate Atkinson, who puts into test the notion of “Eternal Recurrence” discussed by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in The Gay Science:
What if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: “This life as you now live it and have live it, you will have to live it once more and innumerable times more” … Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: “You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.”
But even when this possibility sounds entirely fictional, as we delve in the studies of Quantum Physics, the understanding of our reality blurs, and not only the notion of the existence of countless possibilities in parallel realities become plausible, but the fact that all might happen at the same time as we speak, making us wonder if what we experience in our ordinary lives is truly real.
So, can multiple versions of me be living different outcomes to the decisions I’ve made during my life?