My brain has many bugs and limitations. But by far the most limiting is my inability to comprehend the existence of other people. I mean, I know you’re there. And I know that your world, to you, is as big as mine is to me. But I am completely incapable of ascribing “realness” to your life. I am incapable of fathoming that inside your mind is a universe bigger than my own.
Because one universe is large enough. I have an already difficult time fathoming my own existence, to even begin trying to fathom yours. This may all sound like useless metaphysical nonsense, but one of the most important ways this issue manifests itself is in my inability to comprehend the busy-ness of other people.
When I send an email to you and don’t get a response, or get a very delayed response, it is almost certain that you were extremely busy and could not get to my email in a timely manner. But small-mind me takes it personally. Small-mind me asks, how busy could you possibly be?
The maximum value of my own busy-ness is the maximum value I am capable of ascribing to your busy-ness. You could very well be 10x busier than me, but I cannot fathom it. Small-mind me insists that if I can manage it, so should you.
I discovered this was a problem when I noticed my own busy-ness increasing over the past few months as I’ve had to deal with more support emails and bug fixes. And every time my busy-ness level increased, my level of empathy towards other people’s busy-ness increased. Better-mind me says, ah ok, now I see that people can in fact be a lot busier than I imagined. But small-mind me limits this empathy once again to a value no higher than my own.
I have a much easier time fathoming the existence of people close to me, but there is still a concrete wall in between, with pores that allow me to see through to you. For random strangers, it’s a lost cause.
Sometimes, I’ll be driving and stopped at a red light, and a human pedestrian will be walking by. I’ll look at them in bewilderment and think, inside that person is another universe larger than my own. To that person, that universe is as important as mine is to me. Inside that person, there are hopes, and dreams, and grief, and happiness, and complications. Inside that person are religions, philosophy, knowledge, and wisdom. That person is as real as me.
But I can’t fathom it. It’s just an abstract thought, like a universe that is infinite—how can something be infinite?
Your existence boggles my mind just as well.