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How to Grow Additional Brains

Designed with Midjourney

All models of reality are flawed, but the good ones are useful. There's one model that's particularly popular right now, and I found a new use for it. For this explanation, let's look at the the Many Worlds model of reality. You've probably encountered it before, sometimes under names like "Branching Universe" or "Mandela Effect". In case you haven't, it's the idea that there are many, possibly infinite, alternate versions of the universe, and that each one is the result of a different possible outcome for every decision or random event that occurs within a universe. In other words, any time you choose one outcome over another, both outcomes spring into existence, and you stay in one of them while an alternate you lives out the other outcome.

This model has a lot of fun and silly implications. Some people address their Fear Of Missing Out by settling for "at least there's some version of me that gets to do it". Some people take solace in knowing that there's a version of themselves that didn't have to bear the pain that this one did. But it goes the other direction too. Have you ever daydreamed about chaotically turning your steering wheel just to see the destruction it caused? Maybe you dismissed it as a silly passing thought, but does that mean you created a version of you that didn't? How many versions of yourself have you called into existence out in the multi-verse, only to meet immediate violent and grisly ends? How many friendships have been ruined because an alternate version of you spoke your mind when this version knew to hold your tongue?

OK, let's not get carried away. We can't all be perfect marshals of our thoughts, and becoming the version of you that gets guilty for daydreaming is probably not healthy. What if we could take that same creative power and make it something much more intentionally good? What if instead of making versions of yourself that have to go through chaos and trauma, you started actively making better versions of yourself?

Please understand as we continue that this whole construct is just a tool we are going to build. I am not insisting that the Many Worlds model is fundamentally true, nor am I discounting it. The usefulness of this tool is not it's closeness to objective truth, it is the benefit it gives to our mind and emotions when we use it. If you reject the tool for being untrue, it will not have much use for you. If you accept it as useful regardless of truthfulness, it becomes useful. You control that decision entirely.

So what would it look like to build a better version of you to exist in some alternate universe, and why should you if you're never going to go there? Well, for starters, I bet this version of you has learned some lessons that are really important, but not particularly relevant to the life you wound up living. I have some deep thoughts about being a parent, but circumstances suggest that's not a part of my future. Maybe there's a version of me out there that is a parent? There were certainly paths in my past I could've taken to make that more likely. What if when I learn a good parenting lesson here, I could just "send it" over to a version of me that could use some insight?

For that to work, there'd need to be versions of me out there that were equipped and capable of receiving the lesson. So let's start with that. Let's daydream into existence that every version of us that branches out from right now is either in the branch that learns to use this tool, or the branch that decides it's too silly and forgets about it. That was pretty easy. But we can go a little further. I don't think any version of me that branches out from right here, right now, goes back to high school. But I can daydream a version of me that goes through high school, in a universe where time is offset such that alternate me is still actively living through high school while I'm in my mid 30's writing metaphysics advice on the internet. Extended enough, we can daydream versions of ourselves at every point of our lives, each of which has learned to use this tool one way or another. (It arrived to me much as an epiphany, perhaps it was being sent by an alternate me? More on that in a minute.)

Now we have a whole catalog of ourselves out in the multi-verse, ready to receive our thoughts. Whenever I learn something that would really help some alternate version of me, I can just imagine that there's a mentally equipped version of me that needs to hear it. From there, I can imagine that the alternate version splits into two forks: the one that receives my thoughts, and the one that doesn't. For the one that does, have I just achieved a form of trans-dimensional self-education?

If I gain a big insight into parenting, I don't need to try to tell every parent I know, I can send it to the versions of myself that could make use of it. If I learn something cool about car mechanics, I can send it to the version of me that builds cars. Instead of being mildly amusing bits of trivia, these lessons turn into favors I can do for alternate versions of myself.

And if I keep this construct in mind, and decide that I'm in the branch that believes in the usefulness of the tool, I can receive lessons from alternate versions of myself. When one of them figures out something cool mathematically, or a trick to writing, maybe they send it to me this way too. I've always felt like I have an endless supply of stories to tell, maybe I get them from versions of me that are too busy to write. Maybe this is why when I relax in the shower or in bed I'll get answers popping up in my head unexpectedly.

I know that some of you are still going to struggle to accept this as something that can work. Conjuring information out of the multi-verse sounds a lot like magical thinking. And maybe it is. But even if it's totally made up, and there is only one universe, and only one version of each of us, it can still be useful to pretend otherwise. Even if I'm not sending knowledge across the multi-verse to help other Yamens, I'm still actively sorting my knowledge and giving it a role, instead of letting it float around looking for a use in my head. Even if those random epiphanies come from within, not from some far away universe, they arrive nonetheless. If this construct helps me encourage my brain to pick up on these kinds of unexpected thoughts and learn to benefit from them, it's a useful construct even if it's pretend.

If this one isn't useful for you, I have an entirely different model that covers a lot of the same ground, but instead of multi-verses, it considers the complicated council of selves that exists within your own mind. But if you want to know more about that, you'll have to ask.

Complicated Reality

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by Yamen O'Donnell.

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