Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Multiverse of Agency


"If you knew there was a universe, where you were happy, wouldn't you want to go there?" Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch

If your life has gone exactly how you thought it would when you were a kid, I’d venture to guess you’re in the minority. Life has its twists and turns (violent twists and turns at times). Things go right. Things go wrong. Take mental health concerns into account and the whole situation only gets messier. 

There are a few twists and turns in particular that I wish hadn’t happened in my life. Like coming home from my mission early (a story for another time). If I’d have done it differently or gone for a service mission afterwards, maybe I’d be happier now? Maybe my mental health issues wouldn’t be so paralyzing. 

In Multiverse of Madness, Wanda spent all her energy trying to recreate her fantasy life. I went into the movie thinking Wanda was going to help Doctor Strange to make amends for the events of WandaVision. Instead, we saw her tearing the multiverse apart to get what she wanted. She only saw two options in her life: take over the life of her doppelganger or go through life miserable. What a miserable dichotomy! 

There’s a temptation to look for another life where life is grander and happier. The phrase goes “the grass is always greener on the other side”. But we have the power of agency to change and choose happiness. Our agency doesn’t give us power to change our past wounds, but it gives us the chance to choose where we go from here. Do I wallow in the pain and stay stagnant? Or do I keep pushing forward and trying, even though it’s painful at times?

"From our experience, the greatest danger to the Multiverse, it turns out, is Doctor Strange." Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic

But is change even possible? In this great “Multiverse of Madness” there hadn’t been a Doctor Strange that the Illuminati could trust. His fate in their minds was predetermined by the past experiences they had with others like him. They didn’t even give him a chance to react differently than their Strange and as a result they died. 

"This Stephen is different. He is. It doesn't matter about all the other Stephens. They're not like him." America Chavez

While our Stephen did end up reading the Darkhold, he didn’t let its darkness control him (at least not that he saw). He chose to be better than his predecessors. As we study the Old Testament this year, I hope I’m doing better than my predecessors too, Doctor Strange was able to stop Wanda’s rampage through the multiverse. Because he wanted to be better. 

“Every time you opened a portal, you sent us exactly where we needed to go." Doctor Strange

My life has not gone how I’ve planned one bit. I wanted to go to BYU, go on a mission, get married, start a family, and start my career directly out of BYU. Instead I came home early from my mission, I didn’t use my degree from BYU, I didn’t get married at BYU, and my wife and I have struggled with infertility. 

Ever since I was a young adult, I’ve loved a scripture in Words of Mormon: “And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.” (Verse 7)

Repeatedly during the movie, we kept hearing referenced Christine's question to Doctor Strange: "Are you happy?" I had a patient say something similar to me recently and it got me thinking... Life hasn’t turned out how I planned. I still struggle with all the what-ifs (that's a completely different aspect of the MCU multiverse). But each step along the way, I’ve felt a witness that “the Lord knoweth all things” and it’s for “a wise purpose” that my life has gone the way it has. When I look at my wife, my daughter, and my friends, I’m grateful in my little corner of the multiverse. 

"Sometimes, I do wonder of my other lives. Yet I remain grateful in this one. Even with each tribulations." Wong

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