Dora Maar, After the Rain, 1933
Please think about this as you go on. Breathe on the world.
Hold out your hands to it. When morning and evenings
roll along, watch how they open and close, how they
invite you to the long party that your life is.
I do believe in an everyday sort of magic - the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.
No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.
Among the grasses,
An unknown flower
For in and out, above, below,
‘Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show,
Play’d in a Box whose Candle is the Sun,
Round which we Phantom Figures come and go.
The Illusion of Separation
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us ‘the universe,’ a part limited in time and space,” wrote Einstein in 1950. “He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical illusion of consciousness.” It’s a brilliant and fascinating perspective, and science tells us that it’s true. Our eyes inform us that there is a definite boundary between us and the world around us, and so we perceive ourselves as entities separate to the wider universe—as individuals just making our home in this vast place. But when we take a step back, we can see that we’re molecular machines built from a specific arrangements of atoms—atoms that existed before we were born and will continue to exist after we die. They were recycled from the dust of dead stars, and we’re only their temporary custodians. Fundamentally, each of us is just a tiny individual expression of an enormous singular entity—so we are the universe perceiving and studying itself. The idea that the individual and the universe are inseparable is a humbling, counter-intuitive and ultimately awe-inspiring idea—there’s a mad kind of beauty in knowing that we do not live in the universe, but rather we are the universe. As Feynman wrote: “I…a universe of atoms…an atom in the universe.”