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AH, THERE YOU ARE
Do you ever stop and think about the fact that all the people around you, the people on the bus, or the woman riding horseback in the field by the road or the folk that wander purposefully up and down the aisles of the grocery store you're in, ALL those people are thinking and doing and living their lives just like you? Sometimes it freaks me out a little bit. It used to freak me out a lot when I had this kind of epiphany every once in awhile in Chicago, city of 9 million plus souls. And half the world is going on when the other half is sleeping! People are living and thinking and loving and worrying and laughing all the time!

I mean, I KNOW intellectually that all the people around me, all the people everywhere, even YOU, are conscious beings, living and working and loving and thinking all the time just like me, but I don't think about it all the time, and I bet you don't either, because most of the time we're each living in a self-contained vacuum of one. We ARE the center of the universe, each and every one of us, and to suddenly realize, if even for a second, that that is true for each person you see as you go about your daily life is mindboggling, awesome and the stuff of major head trips.

Luckily, some kind of self-defense mechanism immediately snaps into action and our attention is distracted and we move on to thinking about our to-do lists or what to make for dinner or what possessed the DMV to give the idiot in front of you a driver's license, or why it only seems to snow in Canada and Michigan and New England and NEVER HERE IN SWEDEN where Polar Bears Roam The Streets, for godssake.

Maybe if everyone in the world, and I mean everyone, not just you enlightened globally-minded Internet junkie types, but EVERY ONE, thought about this more often, it would change the world. If you really stop and realize that the colleague you think of as annoying or stupid is JUST LIKE YOU, and so is the person whose religious views are completely opposite yours, and so is the cousin who lives halfway around the world, and so is the faceless enemy: getting through their life, thinking about their children or their mortality or their next chance to show off what they can do. JUST LIKE YOU.

I don't mean that they are smart like you, or pretty like you or talented and creative and wise like YOU. I mean, in the most fundamental sense of likeness. We are all just like you. You are all just like me!

Don't you think that the world might be a better place if we all took a few moments every now and then to acknowledge the actual humanity of others? It's much less easy to denigrate or hate or disdain or ignore people if they suddenly become PEOPLE to you. Usually, only the people that we care about are real to us or the people that we are actually talking to or interacting with at any given moment. It's strange and weird and delightful to realize that people are living out their lives, all over the world, all the damn time. It's strange and weird and delightful to think about you sitting there reading this and nodding your head or rolling your eyes or clicking the link to tell me what you think about this or wondering what exactly I am smoking and where can you get some?

There are two types of people—those who come into a room and say, "Well, here I am!" and those who come in and say, "Ah, there you are." —Frederick L. Collins
 restless
mood: restless
music: Corinne May—Beautiful Seed


Comments
(Anonymous)

MAYBE we're all just like you. Or maybe it's like in The Matrix, and YOU'RE the only one who's real. Maybe we're all just visions moving around, appearing to do things in YOUR world, but none of us actually exist on our own. As soon as you turn the corner or fall asleep, the rest of us suddenly cease to exist, and then the next time you look out the window, there we are again. Or maybe it's like in The Truman Show, where we actually do exist, but we're all paid actors wearing tiny earphones, and someone's telling us all when you're about to turn the corner or walk into the room, so we can jump into place and make your world appear to have all these real people with real lives in it.

Actually if it really is that actor thing, I for one am not being paid enough.

-Russell

(there are 10 kinds of people in the world... the ones that understand binary and the ones that don't)

I kind of like both of those ideas. Back to your pseudo-life, you figment!

(also, I thought about that binary line when I was typing this...and there ARE actually 2 kinds of people in this world: those who ROLL THEIR EYES EVERY TIME IT COMES UP and those that understand binary :P)

Don't you think that the world might be a better place if we all took a few moments every now and then to acknowledge the actual humanity of others?

Absolutely. This reminds me of a scene in the film "Three Kings" in which an American soldier is being tortured by an Iraqi and they suddenly realise they are in the exact same position: they have a family, they joined the army to earn money etc.

Exactly! that's exactly what I mean!

(Anonymous)

The short response: YES!

The longer response: what REALLY freaks me out is when you look at your spousal unit and have this sudden realization: "Holy Monkey! You are a WHOLE 'nother person! You are you own separate entity with your own thoughts and feelings and perspective and experiences I'll never have (like, you know, peeing standing up and stuff)!" That one always knocks me for a loop before I go back to pretending he's my taller extension who toils away in the city. But looking at your dog and having the realization that "Holy Monkey! You're a whole 'nother SPECIES from me!!!" can really set me into a spin. The kind of spin that leads ultimately to vegetarianism (or at least it did in my case).

And you know what? The funny thing is that while you are all thinking about snow in Canada and people on the other side of the world and stuff, lately I have been musing endlessly about how everything always seems better in Sweden. Seriously. I'm deeply invested in the Swedish bloggers lately. Aside from your spectacular self, I read Camilla Engman every day and Smoosh and lately whenever I find someone new, turns out? They live in Sweden.

It is a small small world after all.

xo wee

P.S. I'm just asking: how come you've been on my brain so very much lately? Because you have. A lot, a lot.

I don't know why, but it's mutual. :) Now I have to go check out those Swedish blogs you mentioned!

I thought I was the only one with a weird enough brain to be overwhelmed sometimes by the existence of other people. :) I absolutely understand and agree. I guess I usually think of this in terms of tyrants or villains, like if only Adolph Hitler had recognized the common thread of humanity connecting himself with everyone he hated... But really, this line of thought could make life so much brighter for us ordinary people -- parents seeing their children as equals, drivers giving each other the right of way, waitresses catering to the special stories of restaurant clients, and diners seeing their waitress as a girl just trying to make it in the world.
Whatever you're smoking, I'd like some of, please.

*hands over the peace pipe*

Russsell said:
"Maybe we're all just visions moving around, appearing to do things in YOUR world, but none of us actually exist on our own. As soon as you turn the corner or fall asleep, the rest of us suddenly cease to exist, and then the next time you look out the window, there we are again...."

Hi, I found your blog through Julia/ hippogriffs. :)

Russell's comment reminded me of a idea I had when I was a kid. I thought maybe we were all a story, a book. When people were 'reading' our story, we were awake and when they closed the book we were asleep. :-)When I told a friend about this, she said she must have some night owls reading her story!

A couple of years ago, I was waiting at the train station in Chicago after taking the bus from Wisconsin. Since we had a delay I had time to think. I thought about what it would look like to look down from the ceiling at myself and all of these people. Like little ants carrying their bits of food, here we were dragging our luggage and forming huge lines. I also thought of all the train stations and airports, etc in the world where people were doing the same thing. We are all part of a big picture we cannot even see.

Lizardek, you are right. I think of how the world has changed with the internet. We are so much more connected than we ever were. We type our little words to each other and see a whole other side/ view of the world. Yet, it was there all along.

Finally (I sure am wordy tonight!), I was talking to a friend about where we are today, our place in this world. She said you have to believe you are right where you belong. That you were meant to be here and now, connecting to who you are able to and seeing the world- as big and crazy as it issaround and realize how much connected we are too!

Would you mind if I add you to my blogroll? I'm glad i found you and will read more!
Joy

Of course I don't mind! Welcome! I'm looking forward to getting to know you :) Thought I'm surprised to hear you say you found me via Julia/Hippogriffs since I lurk there regularly, but rarely comment or anything.

I love your idea that we're all in a story, awake only when someone is reading us. Like the toys that are alive only when the children are in the room.

Sometimes, mostly when I'm in my own little world, in my own little mind, while walking alone by the river (everything happens there by the river in my mind), I start thinking about the other people I know and love and how they have and are immersed in their own lives~AND that right now while I am walking along so self-absorbed, THINGS are happening in THEIR lives, I mean like, they are on their own movie screen doing things that HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ME! Even my children! So. hmm.
(Do I get a prize for longest run-on sentence on your blog comment page?)

Anyway, you get the drift. I'm weird.

So, "Do you ever...?" Yes, I do.

Good entry.
Some fun comments too. If I weren't such a slacker with an achy shoulder these days, I'd hafta comment to some of your commenters.

I know! They have lives of their own! It's so weird and wonderful :)

(Anonymous)

"...self-contained vacuum of one". So very true. This is one of my favorite posts. I want to hold on to every single word! And that quote! Perfect.

Jeanine

(Anonymous)

Oh how perfect you have spoken---well, written about this subject. And, similiar thoughts to the Dalai Lama's, in his book that I am reading! :) This is how we all need to think in order to bring PEACE to our world. Love, Lizardmom

I willing to 'go there' with you...as long as you don't make me include Dick Cheney... ;)

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