Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Center of the Universe

Every child is wrapped in a cocoon of absolute, unquestioning certainty that he or she is the center of the universe. Most of us, through increasing awareness of reality, grow out of that notion. Some of us do not, and I am one of the latter group.

The fact is that each of usis,in fact, the center of our own universe which, while existing within the infinitely larger framework of time, eternity, and the cosmos, is sadly finite. Our individual universe ends when we end. We are aware, of course, that there are an infinite number of things going on out there in the world around us, most of which have absolutely no direct influence on us, and that there are an infinite number of things which do influence us over which we have absolutely no control. But we....each of the only thing we can be absolutely sure of. Our own reality is the only reality which matters.

The center-of-the-universe assumption is common among megalomaniacs, and I've always found it fascinating that there are far, far more male megalomaniacs than female. I must have a talk with my friend Dr. Freud about that....I'm sure he'd have some interesting observations.

That relatively few people give their actual position in the overall scheme of things much thought is natural. It's one of those things which, even if pondered at great depth, cannot be resolved or changed. I think one criterion for holding to the conviction of being the center of the universe stems from one's reluctance or, as in my case, absolute refusal, to let go of the sense of wonder and awe given all children and taken away far too soon and often too cruelly by reality. I take a perverse pride in never having outgrown my childhood and, in fact, cling to it fiercely. Perhaps it is my way of trying to play King Canute and hold the rising tide of time at bay.

We witness and react (to one degree or another) to others largely depending on their closeness, both emotionally and geographically, to ourselves. And of those two factors, emotional and geographical, the emotional closeness is the dominant one. The death of a close friend affects us far more directly and deeply than the deaths of 200,000 people in a disaster on the other side of the world--in large part, I suspect, to the fact that they are closer to US and therefore closer to the center of the universe.

Yet given everything just stated above it is paradoxical that I should strive so constantly and so diligently to prove to you that [i]I am the center of the universe--which relegates you to...what? (Well, you can take smug comfort in the knowledge that it is you who is the center of the universe, and I am merely a deluded wannabe.)

Being the center of the universe holds the danger of becoming not unlike a black hole: sucking everything into the gaping maw of me, until not even light can escape it. There are, throughout history, people like that. Yet it has been theorized that the big bang which created our known universe took place when an inconceivably huge black hole compressed into itself to the point where it exploded outward.

I stand in awe of so many things, not the least of which is that while there are, and have been throughout history, individuals who have set themselves out to be humanity's black holes, there are also those rare individuals whose lives have been similar to the big bang: everything goes out from them rather than being taken into themselves. And I, who still see myself as an optimist, look upon this comparison with hope.

For all my posturing, I sincerely doubt I could ever be sufficiently self centered to become a black hole, but if I did become one, there would always be the hope of someday going in a nano-second's nano second from being an infinitely small, black speck to the stuff of which stars are made. In the world of my fantasies, worse things could happen.

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