Well. It certainly appears that there’s a difference between you and me, and if not a difference, at least a distance.
The gap between us is normally air, space, nothingness, but even pressed up against each other, we are linked only by sensation and guesswork. An assumption that we are both feeling the same thing, or at least inverted equivalents.
But are we?
It’s something we instinctively know. We are similar enough to each other to be able to comprehend and empathise. Without that we would be, well lost and lonely and cruel and sad.
Of course, sometimes we are that too. The oneness of connection is not always easy, and actually, we live in a world that tends to discourage it. Isolation and selfishness are basically what consumer capitalism wants to encourage. It is important to celebrate your uniqueness with any number of consumer goods; clothes, music, art, brands and other cultural warpaint. Mark your identity with the goods you buy, parade them for the world.
But even then, the best way to encourage us to do that is to ask us to unify. Identify as part of a group, be part of the in crowd.
It pushes in two directions at once, and really, that’s because we do the same.
We can only experience our own viewpoint. We can only see the world that passes through our eyes and ears. I can only guess who you are, and what impact that has on the world we share. We can look at the same thing and see if from different angles.
But we’ll spend our whole lives trying to find people to share what we see, what they see. We want to know how it is for other people, not just for confirmation, but for exploration. We aren’t just trying to verify our own world (although that is useful for the ‘sanity’), we’re trying to find new ways of connecting to it
I’m reminded of brahma, as always. The notion that we are all part of the same godhead omnipotence, bored of knowing everything, and wanting to gain some experience of something new, brahma occludes aspects, divides (while still being whole) into this universe, and all its constituent parts. We, as brahma, experience each other, and it’s like brahma gets to know anew.
So we are all the same, but we’ve forgotten, and we’re in this ride to learn and experience. So we do.
We are separate, but we are one. We are each aspects of the same universe, fumbling and reaching out to each other, forgetting and fearing and needing each other.
We are stardust, and we are made of each other. We are so alike, and not just the people, but the birds and the bees and the fish and the rocks and the sea and the trees and the stars and the sky and the chimney.
Built from the same stuff, we are different together.
As one, we are universe.
Illustration by Helen