I dreamed there was a slider bar I could pull to chronologically preview my life, with branching choice paths. The dream focused mainly on the possibilities of childbearing. I could have one kid, and it would happen at the end of this long car trip and it’d be hot and difficult. That one would be a boy, intelligent and possessing integrity, but a bit full of himself. If I went for two, the second would be a girl, and would like me — and having a sibling would keep the eldest from being so selfish. If I went for three, and stopped there, the third would be manic-depressive and would try to kill himself a couple times in high school. But if I went for four, the fourth child would shield (in some nonsensical dream-logic way) her older brother from his demons, and he wouldn’t be depressed. She would go on to become a scientist.
You could drag the slider bar forward and back, and people would move through your vision — yourself, your kids — and your location would change, dictated on the events that spawned in response to your choices. You could skip on into their lives, too, and make the kids central to the story, like how in The Sims you can change POV (and necessarily have to, if your sim of choice dies). That was how I found out that the youngest, if I ended up having her, would become a scientist. The eldest would prosper but die in a fancy boating accident in his 40s or 50s. The third child, if not depressed, became a psychiatrist. If he was depressed, he didn’t, and lived in a very small space with brick walls and no air conditioning. The second child cried the hardest at my funeral, when I grew old, but sometimes she was alone in her car in the parking lot afterward, and sometimes there were people there to comfort her. She led my husband away from the cemetery, always, and his shoulders shook.
It was exhausting. I feel like I got no sleep. I was never deluded, by Doctor Who or Afterlife‘s Heavenly Hindsight Habitat (seen here and described below) or Alia Atreides or anyone else into thinking that that kind of power would be a good thing to have. But even the dreaming of that kind of systematized review is draining and, as you would expect, saddening. You want to make the choices that make everyone happy, but even those can lead to an early death — if the eldest son was humbled by his siblings into being less of a jerk, he came into great wealth, enough to buy a yacht and die on it in stormy seas. If you didn’t have any more kids…well, I don’t know. I don’t remember all of it. But there wasn’t a way to make everyone happy. In that, I suppose, it was an accurate-enough simulation.
Sad, though. It was sad.
Heavenly Hindsight Habitat
One of the nifty perks about Heaven is that you’re freed from all the regrets, guilt, trauma, etc., about the way you lived your life. That doesn’t mean you’re freed from CURIOSITY, though. In the Heavenly Hindsight Habitats, SOULs are given the opportunity to see how their lives would have turned out if they had made different decisions along the way. This is accomplished through a highly-sophisticated melding of virtual reality, quantum mechanics, and divine whimsy, and should not be tried at home without an omniscient being present.