Astrophysicists have a theory that there may be multiple universes out there, perhaps even an infinite number of universes. They call it the Multiverse. There are a lot of complex mathematical formulas to try and demonstrate all of this, taking up acres of blackboards and terabytes of disk space.
But they could easily save themselves the brain drain, because all it takes is a walk down a crowded street or through a bustling airport to prove that theory. Even though I am surrounded by humanity, I look at the faces of those around me, and clearly each of them is in their own little bubble of a universe.
Walk into any restaurant, and it is immediately evident that each table is a universe unto itself. And within that Table For Four Universe, each of the inhabitants is also in their own little bubble world, only incidentally engaged with the others – starships passing in the night. (And if you’ve gone to some of the restaurants I have, the servers are always orbiting on a different plane…)
In the star charts of our galaxy, alien explorers have labeled the earth: The Selfie Planet.
There are 7 billion people on this planet, yet most of the time each of us acts as if we are the only ones here.
Of course, the same is true of me – I am the Little Prince adrift on my own tiny rock, a universe separate and apart from all others.
How often do I think of anyone else, I mean apart from what I want from them, what I’m expecting from them, how I think they should behave toward me? If I force myself to think about it, I find that I spend the vast majority of my life looking inward, seeing the world around me only as it relates directly to me. Not always selfish (but more often than not), yet certainly always self-centered.
Here’s a recent example that startled even me: I’ve been working on a big project, laboring intensely over the presentation for weeks, and finally sent it off. The next day I was told the decision-maker had been in a car accident and broken her hip. My very first thought? “Why did this happen to me?”
Seriously. It doesn’t get any more lost in space than that.
I think that must be why we revere any kind of true teamwork, from a basketball team to synchronized swimmers, a four-piece rock band to a full orchestra – we marvel at the selfless ability to embrace a larger universe, to think as group, to be an integral part of something bigger than ourselves.
Or true love – the ability to care more about the wellbeing of the beloved’s universe than our own. We’re all capable of this for short bursts. But how to maintain it?
Those same scientists who are adding and subtracting to find the multiverse all acknowledge that our own universe is blooming like a flower, constantly expanding, moving out toward some unseen distant horizon.
Can I do the same with my universe?