It has been estimated that there are more than six billion of us living on this single planet.  But, no matter how many there are, to a certain extent we all live alone.  We imagine that we know what other people’s lives are like, what it’s like to be them.  We praise, criticize, punish, love or envy them based on a vague notion of who they are and who we think they should be, but how can we ever really know?  (We can start by asking, and sincerely listening to the answer…)

For that matter, how can we know ourselves?  Our memory is suspect, as it is the story of our life, rather than a purely factual record of experience.  Our bodies receive, (or collect?), a series of sensations, feelings, impulses, directions, chemicals, vibrations, etc. and we cobble them together, impose structure and significance within a larger social order, and from this mass we construct and reconstruct who we are and what has happened to us.  If we were honest, we’d have to admit that our memory, our experience, our understanding, our knowledge, our sense of reality…all of it is no more trustworthy than our dreams.  If this is true, where do we go to find meaning?  How can we know how we are supposed to live?

© Salahub 2003