Distress Tolerance 12: Morty and the Multi-verse

If you havn’t seen Rick and Morty, I highly recommend it. It has a perfect balance of entertainment, humour, sci-fi adventure, and nihilism. It features the most brilliant scientist in the universe, Rick Sanchez, and his pubescent whiny grandson, Morty, as they go on adventures through the multi-verse.

Just browsing through my infinite selves

The multi-verse, or Multiple Universe Theory, is the idea that there are infinite versions of universes with infinite versions of you and everything and everyone in a constant state of expansion. Imagine every time you flip a coin the universe splits into two realities; one where the coin lands on heads, and the other where the coin lands on tails. Every time you make a choice or a change the universe splits again. If you’re still confused at this point just google it.

In one episode of Rick and Morty, the family is given a device that allows them to look into the lives of other versions of themselves as they exist in other universes. This inevitably leads to some frustration and outrage with how things have turned out for them in their current universe.

Morty’s sister Summer, is particularly infuriated with her reality, and after she storms off, Morty goes to her, and describes an adventure he had in which the world was broken beyond repair. He and Rick abandon the broken reality and step into a reality where the two of them die in a sudden experiment gone wrong. They bury the bodies and step seamlessly into the place of their dead selves.

His point to her is so succinctly wrapped up in the following dialogue:

“Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everyone’s going to die. Come watch TV.”

Sibling love! Holla out to Bren, Nu, Nini, Rosh, Doorknob, and Bozoface!

Morty is telling her that it doesn’t matter what kind of history she has in this or any version of reality. There’s no grand plan or universal destiny, (Gandalf would disagree) we’re here because we’re here so we might as well stop panicking and make the best of what we have in the moment (In their case some pretty awesome inter-dimensional cable TV).

The existential nihilism in Rick and Morty is incredibly refreshing and liberating in a lot of ways. If there is no real meaning or purpose to our existence then we can make our own meaning and our own purpose. We become responsible for our own destiny and we are challenged to take control of our lives in a way that, I believe, can be incredibly profound.

Just some ordinary everyday existential crisis to keep things fresh.

I know I’m beginning to wade into some really thick theological stuff here, which is not the purpose of this blog, but I do want to share with you the ideas and stories that have helped me find my way through Borderline Personality Disorder, and live a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Whether you find meaning in Gandalf’s predestination, Kirk’s unothrodox creativity, the Jedi’s quest for peace with control, or Morty’s nihilistic abandon, I highly encourage you to explore philosophy, logic, and ethics, until you can find one that makes the most sense to you, and can help you live a healthier life, here and now, in this reality, and in this moment.

Athena, Goddess of Wisdom says “Know your shit!”