We are little universes.

Thinking about myself, I realized long ago that I live more in the past and future than I ever live in the present. Recently, however, I recovered something I had forgotten with a start: that not only do I live in another time, but in an entirely invented time. This recollection was met with slight dismay and a sense of soberly disheartenment, which was curious, because years before I remember a love for the extraordinary places to which I traveled and a confidence that there is a strange truth in the “imaginary.” Although I had been born into less than nurturing circumstances (though my mother is so wonderful I can hardly complain about the injuries inflicted upon me by others) I had strangely been a passionate child, though I had learned to suppress this passion, having been taught that it was useless–though knowing, even then, that it was of immeasurable value. (I was also very restless and ran about everywhere and become lost frequently, and would happily trustingly converse with strangers, much to my mother’s great distress.)

In contrast, today this escapist tendency often makes me feel empty. I genuinely wonder sometimes if it’s somehow keeping me from relating to other people or finding interest in where I am physically as I spend most of my time in a state of reverie. Perhaps I’m coming to myself in a circle–as a child eventually I took to confiding myself in my room for… reasons. I turned on the radio for hours to listen to human voices. Only my books and my thoughts kept me occupied, and they were as passionate as I was, wild and extravagant, but simple ones too, with a feeling of truth somehow even in their purple skies and blue fields.

What’s also been frustrating is my incessant need to find meaning everywhere, possibly in places in which it doesn’t exist. I remember sitting in third grade math, cross-examining the communicative property of addition and the associative property of multiplication: no matter how numbers are arranged or grouped they will have the same value. This, I thought wildly, is a secret–there is something here. It means that a person has the same value regardless of situational factors, it means that space is created and time is an illusion.

When learning about absolute value, I become fervently more obsessive. |2| = |-2| But people don’t see absolute value signs, and they believe that -2 is less than +2 when in fact neither is more or less than the other, because they are both the same distance from 0 and greater and less are secondary characteristics that humans apply to other things and each other, but you have to take 1 away from 2 and add 3 to -2 for them to both be 1. Although they’re equal in absolute value they each require different treatment to reach a just level, because everyone is different in their needs and preferences and capabilities but are of equal intrinsic worth.

No, I told myself. Stop it, this is ridiculous.

But I couldn’t stop it. I remember reading Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, in which everyone was operating on a set of rules that were unknown and even violent to the mystified Alice, and I daydreamed about uncovering what they were, whether Carroll based events on a plane of invented logic as he wrote or whether it was entirely random (I also fancied things being random), and how exciting it would be if the reader figured or began to have felt everything suddenly falling into place, which almost–almost–seemed within reach.

Interestingly, I only daydreamed and did not proceed to examine every line and connect them to every possibility.

“We all have magic powers,” I announced to my friends.

“Is it real?” one of the girls asked doubtfully.

“Of course it’s real!” I had to tell them it was or they would never play and enjoy themselves. We all knew it was made-up, of course–but saying it out loud would destroy all the fun. “There’s something we have to find that will help us reconquer the kingdom from the dragons! And I have a map!”

I started many handwritten journals but was so much a perfectionist that I couldn’t stand any markings of mistakes–crossing out a word wouldn’t do, I had to start over entirely. I smiled in amusement every time my name was autocorrected to naiad. Sometime in high school I declared my writing romantic realism and, believing I had invented the term (I looked it up hours later and discovered I hadn’t) went on to write that it’s a dual phrase, it’s a paradox, a “moderation in all things, including moderation,” a “this page was left intentionally blank” printed on an otherwise blank page, a Cretan saying ,“all Cretans are liars,” an “It seems like you can replace any component of a ship, and it will still be the same ship. So you can replace them all, or one at a time, and it will still be the same ship. But then you can take all the pieces which became original because they were part of the original ship when replaced, and assemble them into a ship. That, too, is the same ship you started with.” It’s the division of unity I can harmoniously be because every day I find myself becoming more and more like water.

And like dual concepts everyone is the same and everyone is different and there is fate and there isn’t fate and if it really is some absurd, amusing, self-contradictory, beautiful coexistence and being then can I not live such a changing yet stationary nature of both delightful randomness and relieving reason becoming my own essence to grip to logic yet laugh joyfully when it all falls apart through self-destruction? My laughter is as abundant as my tears but they are both equal to one another in utmost sincerity, and isn’t it that, though my mind is complex and my heart is simple still—has been shaped and misshaped and reshaped to retrieve that simplicity and this time be able maintain it because it conquered life’s pollution of innocence, which is why human beings can smirk smugly and speak articulately and passionately and hotly in debate and then halt to a sudden stop in the midst of it all and regard with wonder and sheer joy a sparrow hopping onto the sidewalk? And all of it, all of it down to every minuscule existence, intensely yet simply sincerity.

There was a quote, and I don’t know if it’s true, but it stated that there are more connections in the human brain than atoms in the universe.

How do we get here, and what are we made of, and what secrets make us change?

And why are we? And why not?

Is it arrogant to believe that, however tiny we are, we touch on some dissipating string in the universe, in Eternity, that remembers us?

7 thoughts on “We are little universes.

  1. Made me think of the Sufi/mutazilat idea that we are all in fact a piece of God. I loved the maths-y philosophy. I will never deal with absolute signs in the same way :)Beautiful writing Nahida xx

  2. Ah, but Ozy: Not necessarily so! I think of God as a mystery, because God is more than we can ever know. Ou has revealed ouself through these mathematical principles (such as the communicative property) – which are themselves mysteries that we can ponder forever. They're small, smoky window into that "cloud of unknowing" (to use Karen Armstrong's term).When I was a kid, I remember asking my math teacher about *why* 1 + 1 = 2. It couldn't just *be*, you know? There had to be a reason behind it. But rather than channel my curiosity into independent study of some sort, she just told me to shut up and do my problems. She was more interested in us learning our maths by rote, and yet mathematicians have earned their PhD's on questions such as those (that is, the field of number theory).

  3. There is a point also, where the laws of physics become useless and inapplicable, and everything defies them.I read something amusing a few weeks ago, that states there must be a law in which the universe changes suddenly the second anyone comes close to figuring it out.

  4. I really like this post, and hope to spend more time reading your blog (found it a few clicks from Feministe). Astrophysics has proven we are made of stardust, to put it poetically: http://youtu.be/MMED5boxySs I don't think there are more connections in the brain than that (maybe more than the number of stars in the Milky Way?), but this is certainly not to do a disservice to that remarkable organ in our noggins! :)


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s