I find it occasionally enjoyable to ponder how decisions made by past generations have affected my life; like trying to grasp the idea of eternity, it’s a useless but quirky and mildly gratifying mind exercise.
Some five decades ago, my grandparents couldn’t agree. Having taken over an orphanage a few days after their wedding and spent a handful of years there, both wanted to move overseas as missionaries. My grandmother preferred India, where she grew up. My grandfather wanted to live in Africa. On their application to the Christian & Missionary Alliance there was a slot for a third choice, so they picked Indonesia at random and figured God would decide where they went.
Some four decades later, they retired. They’d been shot at while riding on a wooden boat, they’d built churches and orphanages with their bare hands, they’d been placed under house arrest for a year during a communist coup and been separated from their children; they’d grown old.
Some two decades ago my parents followed, choosing Indonesia largely because my father missed the country where he’d become a man, carrying planks of wood to help build houses and mopping away sweat in badminton matches.
Would I have been as relaxed if I grew up somewhere other than Southeast Asia? Would I still bear my fatalistic shrug? How silly would my accent have been? Would I have been more or less happy overall? Could I have turned out skinnier? What would have been my go-to party stories? What different foods would I enjoy? What book would have affected me as I grew up?
They’re mostly spurious questions, time wasters really, but what I want to say is this: If I meet myself in an alternate reality and I have that fucking American sense of entitlement, I will fucking thrust a knife into Alternate Me’s throat all the way down to the hilt and hold it there as Alternate Me thrashes and kicks and bleeds Alternate Blood all over my hands and shorts and eventually spasms one last time before drifting off into the Alternate Afterlife.
[Buy The Age Of Adz.]