7 1/2 Billion Universes

Feeling a need to revisit “the basics,” I decided to open up one of my most valued books, Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. I can’t even guess how many times I’ve read this treasure; it’s one of those books that can define your life.

Right there on the first page I discovered, for the first time, an innocent little passage that served as a great reminder. Thoreau writes, “I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience.” I don’t think Thoreau even meant anything deep by this quote, but the guy just can’t help it. He spews wisdom without even realizing he’s doing it.

Perhaps this quote struck me because I’ve been striving more and more lately to think less and less of myself, and instead focus more on others. I find myself reflecting on the fact that we all see the universe from behind our own set of eyes, from our own perspective. And built into our perspective is our entire life worth of experience, stories, beliefs, and convictions. Our personal lives are overwhelmed with good and bad, positive and negative, important and trivial. Our universe is filled with our own thoughts and concerns for our families, our careers, our pleasures, our dreams, and our tragedies.

Multiply that by about 7.5 billion, and that’s how many unique universes are playing out at the same time as our own. Thinking of it in this way can’t help but humble us just a little. Our “huge problems and concerns” are just 1/7 billionth of the huge problems and concerns going on in the world…right now.

Kinda changes your perspective, doesn’t it?

And then I think of how, rather than constantly focusing on my own problems and concerns, I could change the universe for someone else in a positive way. That is, if I could turn the focus away from myself for just a minute.

Maybe I could even change multiple universes.

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

henry david thoreau

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