Crossroads

Streetlights
(The intersection outside my apartment. The kids from the high school go down the hill on bike across the picture, and cars go along the road. I haven’t seen any horrible accidents yet, but someone locking up a tire in breaking is a daily occurrence)

Setup

A graph theory graph is a “a collection of vertices or ‘nodes’ and a collection of edges that connect pairs of vertices.” A node can have more than one edge leaving it, or none if it is a terminal node. An edge can be directed or undirected, meaning that you can move either way along that edge.

And now I will describe my life as a graph from the starting position (inside mom, thanks mom!) to my terminal position (crashing my car on the moon in 2070?). Each node would be a place, and an edge would be time spent going there. Some edges are undirected: I go back and forth between school and home.

There are several layers here, from the very specific: I go from my computer to the bathroom, to the very general: I go from working in the US to studying Japanese in Japan. The rest of this discussion will be around this level of detail.

My Story

In getting to this point (studying Japanese in Japan at the age of 25), I have made many decisions. (Like choosing which road to go along in the picture at the top). The main life-changing decisions that I can see are the course choices in middle school/high school, going to CU-Engineering to study CS, and then the work I did after college. Other things definitely changed me, like getting a TRS-80 Model 100, where I lived, but those are less in my control.

In either case, I chose/was moved along an edge to another node. I wonder what I would be like if those decisions were made differently. If there were an infinite number of parallel universes, then there would be a version of me at age 25 for each possible choice I could have made. Of course, the further back our paths parted, the less similar we would be, like a version of me that enlisted in the Navy at 18 would have done very different things. Likewise the version of me that joined the navy as an Officer after college. Or the version of me that didn’t move to Japan, and instead moved to Denver.

In a similar vein would be talking to myself 10 years ago. “Sorry kid, I don’t have a car any more. But I have gone through 4. Too bad I missed last fire season, but I did get some fires in January and March this year.” as I bike down the street to get something from the supermarket. And then talking in Japanese to a bunch of Taiwanese people.

Where will I be in even 5 years from now? Probably somewhere on Earth. Either the US or in Japan is most likely, but maybe I will be in Europe or Antarctica. Will I be married? What kind of work will I be doing? Maybe I even have my own company?

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