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Godefridus Schalcken: Young Boy, Dressed in a Blue Robe, Holding a Lighted Torch (1692)
" … I return to my world, which I never left, to dream my own dreams by myself …"

E Pluribus Unum—out of many, one—the motto of these so-called united states, has always seemed a troublesome notion to me. I see great and often glorious variety and wonder what benefit homogeny might bestow. I take some pride in remaining unclassifiable, a lone wolf, a member of no uniform group, unwilling to become a member, as Groucho famously grumbled, of any group inviting him to join. Further, it seems to me that we do not, as widely insisted, share a world, but that we each inhabit a world, indeed a universe, unique to us. I admit to considerable overlap, swarming recursions of Venn diagrams, but that for each, the resulting world seems unique to each, and not nearly as shared as might be naively presumed. The difficulties of life shift if we presume great difference rather than essential similarity. No One Best Way could possibly prevail. Charity might spring from understanding that we're each inescapably isolated and not part of some presumed larger whole, and never could be. We might have motive to come together if we understand that we're inescapably apart and isolated. Out of many, regardless. We inhabit Worlds together, not a single place.

My history seems different from yours.
I've grown to dislike and distrust anyone insisting upon telling me how anything is. I wonder how they came to possess such distance that they might have achieved such omniscience, for knowing how something is or should be for me might suggest that they'd somehow come to experience MY world as well as theirs, and everyone else's, too, which would have been quite the impossible accomplishment. I presume that much presumption accompanies any such proclamation about any is-ness and that it might not be anyone's business how anything actually 'is' in any definitive way. I seem more bound by relatives. I accept certain truths even though they remain forever not self-evident. The self-evident ones, I try to remember just who was reviewing the evidence (that would have been me), and conclude a little skeptically. All this means that I remain certain of one thing only. I remain absolutely convinced of my own tenacious uncertainty.

We inhabit Worlds linked in utterly mysterious ways. I sometimes feel overwhelmingly isolated. I was always alone. I appreciate others, when their Worlds bump up against mine, and the sense of connectedness this seems to bring, but I'm careful not to mistake those close reassuring brushes for encounters with hidden parts of my world. I might glimpse as a result previously obscured parts of my world and I understand that I too easily project their experience as if it might have been mine. Worse, I might find myself growing jealous should their experience seem somehow superior. Mine's just what it is, subject to certain self improvements. Notice who's responsible for creating those improvements. Self.

The others remain others, not even my brother's very much like me. I like him. I love him, but I daresn't mistake his world for mine. E Pluribus Magis—out of many, more. This world remains a plural in singular clothing. An airplane that looks like a crane flies directly over this house at precisely 6:07 every morning, heading West. Fifty-five minutes later it lands in Seattle to disgorge its passengers, each into different worlds. That plane feels like another world from here, passing near, suspended in invisible air, quickly gone. I'm left behind with my suddenly silent world, only the sound of my keyboard accompanying. I might stop for a minute to step over to the cat tower to experience a closer encounter with Molly the cat's world. She purrs in acknowledgement of the close brush before slipping back into sleeping in her world and I return to my world, which I never left, to dream my own dreams by myself, then share them with others' worlds.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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