One of the commenters on the previous entry wrote (and I’m paraphrasing liberally) that all parents say “childrearing was the most rewarding, best thing I’ve ever done” because we all make the best of the narrative we’ve chosen. Besides the possible exception of Alois and Klara Hitler, Joyce and Lionel Dahmer, and the parents of იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე ჯუღაშვილი (among others), that’s absolutely correct.
There has to be a word for the human desire for things to work out in a way that means all other ways would have been wrong. It must be a defense mechanism from far back in our DNA, a “no regrets” escape clause that doesn’t allow us the painful luxury of sensing the outcome of all our other untaken choices. We define our past and present with proclamations like “it was meant to be”, and “I can’t imagine it any other way”, even though it doesn’t take much effort to see how fluid and fragile the writing on those stones really was.
Occasionally, though, we do sense an alternate reality. We visit a coffee shop in another town, or we see a person across the subway platform, and some tiny portal opens for a second. I sometimes think it’s a peek into our brother (or sister) selves, inhabiting a different timeline. It could even be where déjà vu comes from, a foreign yet familiar sense, not that we’d been there before, but that our other self is there right now.
We have to believe this other self is happy, it goes about its world the way we do ours, feeling inexpressibly blessed for having made all the right decisions. It has to feel exceptional, almost predetermined – as do we, for how could we go on knowing some other reality is having all the fun?