Other People

In a graduation speech George Saunder’s said:

Each of us is born with a series of built-in confusions that are probably somehow Darwinian. These are: (1) we’re central to the universe (that is, our personal story is the main and most interesting story, the only story, really); (2) we’re separate from the universe (there’s US and then, out there, all that other junk–dogs and swing-sets, and the State of Nebraska and low-hanging clouds and, you know, other people), and (3) we’re permanent (death is real, o.k., sure – for you, but not for me).

Now, we don’t really believe these things–intellectually we know better–but we believe them viscerally, and live by them, and they cause us to prioritize our own needs over the needs of others, even though what we really want, in our hearts, is to be less selfish, more aware of what’s actually happening in the present moment, more open, and more loving.

There’s you and your problems and all the stuff you see going to hell everyday. And then there’s those other people living through tragedy on the news for your entertainment value.

There’s you in your car rehearsing the perfection of driving. And then there’s all these other people being terrible at it and getting in your way to make your life harder.

There’s you running through the park. And then there’s all the other people who watch, admire and think great, terrible, amazing, dull thoughts about you. Because you’re interesting.

There’s you in the security line at the airport. And then there’s the cameras, TSA agents and random travelers that look on–watching you to see how (in)efficient you are and imagining what your body scan looks like.

The way I see it, there’s me. And then there are dogs, swing-sets and the State of Nebraska and low-hanging clouds and, you know, other people (like you).

True fact: Trees don’t make any sound when they fall and you’re not there.