Marty McFly

In my alternative timeline, I am diagnosed in adolescence or before that, and thus access treatments which completely rewrite my youth.

Instead of a skeletal frame, I develop muscles. Instead of depression, I develop self-confidence. In place of fatigue, I am full of energy. In place of social awkwardness, I am outgoing and personable. In this timeline, I grow up to be as successful as my siblings, securing a greater share of the world.

But that alternative timeline is a disaster, for it can only undermine the present. Self-belief is nothing without all that came to be. In such an alternative reality, would I have been joined to this world? Could I possibly ever have found these companions? Could my life have been enriched by these relationships? Would I find myself here? Could I have lived this life?

Sometimes the smallest events can change the entire course of your life. This one was no small thing. It defined everything. Glancing into my beloved’s eyes, I dare not contemplate, “What if?” What if would mean a whole other trajectory for both of us, and for the children we have raised. What if separates our lifelines. Yes, what if changes everything, absolutely.

That diagnosis was amongst the hardest trials of my life, but I have to accept that everything happened in the right order. By necessity, it had to occur then, after experience had forged my character. The years of gloom that preceded it were required to set the stage for all that was to come. The mockery and rejection once faced was hard to bear, but made me the man I am today. I can accept that these experiences shaped me in positive ways. To be mostly kind and caring. To empathise even with my enemy. To relate to the underdog.

It is true that the negatives often tend to undermine these in my mind. The pervasive melancholy, the absent self-esteem, the lack of confidence have all been difficult to shake. So often, these seed the what ifs which dominate my sense of self. The face in the mirror, still cringing at the past, does so too. The timeline I am on defines so much of me.

No, but I would not change it. I have been joined to another world. I cannot imagine a world without my beloved. I cannot imagine a home without these children. I cannot imagine my life without my faith. I cannot imagine a life more ordinary, subsumed into the dominant culture. I accept the timeline decreed for me. No, I embrace it. I embrace all that made me the person I am. I am content with my Lord’s decree.

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