I recalled my awe and wonder as a child holding a hand mirror towards the bathroom mirror and peering in. Or the first time I looked inside a kaleidoscope. The panes of reflective glass have a collective staring competition into infinity.
Reality as I knew it took on multiple reflections and I began to feel like I was living inside of one of those reflections. It was as if the human perception of three-dimensional space yielded before me, and I was being allowed to step in and also see the dimension of time.
Every pane of this kaleidoscope I found myself in appeared to be its own alternative, unique existence. Each pane blended with its neighboring panes to such blinding similarity but yet maintained their own individuality. By just a thread. In each pane, one and only one thing distinguished it from its adjacent existences.
Only the pane I found myself in was the active existence at any given point in time.
How would my friends and I move about through these different panes? This is where it got really curious. I noticed that we were active participants. My own actions as well as those of my friends dictated which of these plausible existences became reality. I was still seeing the campsite and my friends but also, seemingly, every possible reality the future could become. With everyone’s free will, that was a whole mess of possibilities. And it was terrifyingly insane.
As I’d think less intensely and come back to reality—whatever that meant at this point—the kaleidoscopic panels unfolded in some intricate dance-on-rewind, like watching a Transformer turn back into a car. All the panes converged back together to form the single-paned point-of-view I’d seen and experienced my whole life.
“Um. What? What was that?” I thought, or perhaps said out loud. “That was more than just trees waving.”
What did this mean? A lump in my gut throbbed as I began to realize that my actions—as well as the actions of those around me—dictated which existences became our shared reality.
“My actions…” I thought. My mind shifted from the outward “just chill” to inward reflection. My gut started to churn with guilt and confusion. “What am I doing with my life? Why I am alive?”
This is when things took a very, very dark turn.