Negative numbers astound me. I thought I understood them, until I tried to explain them to my children. You have an apple. You have two, three, four apples. You can cut up an apple and have two halves, or four quarters and so on. But how can you have negative one apple? How can negative five apples be less than that? Someone told me to think of digging a hole. I get that one shovel full would make the hole negative one and so on, but a hole is still a physical thing I can imagine getting deeper. It contains a volume of space. How does that translate back to my apples?
I don’t understand existentialism. My small brain has filtered it down to this: All experience is a projection of our own consciousness and therefore not real and ultimately meaningless. I’m sure that’s wrong. I’ve been told so by my colleagues and even by my students. But I can’t grasp it beyond that. And that makes no sense. How could I be the only real thing that exists? How can the entire history of the universe be only about me?
I especially cannot fathom singularity. Or is it the singularity? There once was a time (I’m not even sure time is the right word) when all of the entire universe, every single atom, was contained in an infinitely small speck, but not even a speck, a nothing. And a time will come again when the universe returns to that state. Is there an inside to that nothing? I think not, right? If there’s no inside there can’t be an outside. My limited brain keeps looking for a physical representation. I want to see it. My brain cannot grasp the concept of nothing.
What I most, most don’t understand is how humans think we are different from each other. All wars, all hatred, all evil comes from thinking one human, or one group of humans, is better than another based on beliefs, or skin color, or where they live, or what their ancestors did. But we are all the same. We are all exactly the same. We all want the exact same things: food and shelter, safety, and most importantly, to belong, to be loved. We draw circles around our peoples, pulling them close to us, which seems to require pushing others away, forcing them outside the circle we drew. Then we do all we can to hurt those outside our circle, and by hurt I mean the worst possible ideas humans can come up with, beginning with shunning in the middle school cafeteria and ending with slavery and genocide.
Those circles we draw – they are made of nothing. They are air currents and negative numbers and existentialism and the singularity. I will never stop trying to understand all of those things. But I will also always know they don’t really matter.
The only thing I know for sure is that the only thing that matters is love. Love your peoples, and remember that ALL peoples are your peoples.