One of my favorite TV shows of all time is Sliders. If you haven't seen it, it's basically about four people who travel through the vortex--a wormhole to alternate versions of Earth. One time they came to an America that was still ruled by Great Britain; another time it was a lot like the old west, where 80's-style corporate takeovers came complete with gunslingers battling it out.
Of course, this kind of show also lends itself to social commentary, and there was plenty of that, with shows like the one where men's and women's roles were reversed, and the Professor (who was very much a chauvinist by anyone's standard) ended up leading the way in that world's version of the Equal Rights movement. Another time, it was the Gringos in California who were illegal immigrants and had a hard time finding work.
Still, for the most part it was more interesting than preachy on these topics, and provided the kind of what-if scenarios that many Sci-Fi fans enjoy. *(see note below)
Now I have to admit here that I love the alternate reality stuff. It's one of my favorites--whether you're talking about the alternate universe in Star Trek (complete with bearded Spock), Michael Crichton's Timeline, or even the speculations of real historians about how pivotal certain events were in history. (And if you're really crazy about this stuff, check out Other Timelines.com, where you can read about and submit your own alternate timelines.)
But as much as I'm a fan of speculations like this for entertainment purposes, in one's personal life I think this kind of speculation can be unhealthy. To spend time wishing or dwelling on "what might have been" can lead to a paralysis, and to ignoring what is. It is also a short trip from that to "the good old days" syndrome, which has plagued man throughout history--whether you look at the Israelites leaving Egypt, or the recipients of the letter to the Hebrews mulling over returning back to being under the law.
And both of these things will take the place of what is really important, looking to Christ, and looking toward the future (since now we see darkly, but one day face-to-face). So for the most part, I try to avoid this kind of thing.
But sometimes it is inevitable, especially with the Blogosphere. Seeing people you knew way back when, and meeting new people in circumstances not unlike your own at a point in your own past naturally lead to some of this type of thinking.
For instance, Dan's travails as a newly minted lawyer represent an alternate reality for me, as my wife and I were looking ahead to that very thing when we first got married 12 years ago this month. I ended up staying with my temp job at Charles Schwab, and making a career in financial services.
Then there's this guy (or maybe gal--for privacy reasons they have masked their identity), who linked to a WSJ article I was reading today. The writer is living the business major/MBA's dream--six-figures at a successful firm, making deals and ringing the cash register. Every Junior High kid who read the Wall Street Journal in their spare time would want to be him/her. But reading just the intro tells me that the success of that life comes with strings attached, something that this person recognizes despite the probability that they don't share my personal beliefs. (Though many of my regular readers might not enjoy the detailed financial content or the intermittently sordid corporate context of what's described, those who have a regular diet of sharply written commentary pieces ala Frank Turk or Ann Coulter, for instance, may enjoy a brief sample.)
Which brings me to my ultimate point (had you been wondering?): I'm creating my own alternate reality.
I've given my two week notice at my current firm. What's more, I'm not just leaving the firm, but leaving the industry (and my nearly 13 year career in it) to pursue something completely different.
More details will be forthcoming. In the meantime, Mrs. G & I would appreciate your prayers during this transition.
(*Note: I'm referring mainly to the first two seasons here, which I recently watched on the combined DVD set. I watched Season Three, which was a departure from the original premise, and found out just today that there were Seasons 4 & 5, which I've not seen but which as described seem more like purely action than actual Sci-Fi. Then again, given that Sci-Fi purists don't generally use the word Sci-Fi, take this with a grain of salt.)