Public Citizen ~ Larry Barnett

Larry Barnett Larry Barnett lives in Sonoma where he was elected to three terms on the City Council and served twice as Mayor. A thirty-three-year resident, he currently serves as Chair of Sonoma's Planning Commission. He has been married for 48 years, has two daughters and three grandchildren.


Universal me

Posted on June 21, 2023 by Larry Barnett

Yesterday was one of those remarkable days. It suddenly hit me: I AM THE UNIVERSE. Now this realization might strike you as trite or simply intellectual, but for me it felt momentous, a truth I experienced right down to my gut.

I’m not saying I run the universe or that it’s mine. If I am the universe, then of course, so are you. When we talk, we’re the universe talking to itself, about itself. It’s what the universe does. What about ego, you might ask? Well, what about it? Are you surprised to learn that the universe has produced ego? It appears to me that the universe has a terrific imagination, but perhaps I’m indulging in too much personification. On the other hand, the brilliant philosopher Henri Bergson believed in creative evolution, that the universe is inherently creative in its ceaseless becoming. I say, if it’s good enough for Bergson, it’s good enough for me.

When it comes to imagination, it’s worth asking, what is it? Embedded in the word is the root word “image,” which we think of as something we see, like a painting or photo. But when it comes to being human, imagination is more of a holographic snapshot not just an image, one that captures wholeness with all its content and context: a totality of sounds, tastes, colors, temperatures, feelings, objects…you get the point. While we spend our time and money seeking out and indulging in entertainment that replicates the living experience, we’re already starring in our very own real-time, multi-dimensional show and yet feeling bored. How crazy is that?

Admittedly, I’m hopelessly positive. This does not mean I’m an optimist, by the way, and that I think everything is gonna turn out just fine. And when I say I’m hopeless it doesn’t mean I’m a pessimist and everything turns to shit. I’m hopelessly positive because as far this universe goes, it doesn’t appear to get any better than being born human, so what’s to hope for? The ancient Buddhists knew this, and of the realms of existence they identified, they considered being born in the human realm the most precious gift of all. The other realms – animal, hungry ghost, demigod, god and hell – all offer a path to liberation, but that path is easiest in the human realm where the opportunity of choice exists. Choice – how to think, how to speak, how to act – makes living complicated, to be sure, but it definitely beats being stuck in mindless instinct, perpetual fear, endless pain, insatiable craving, or persistent delusions of grandeur.

If Henri Bergson is correct, human self-awareness and intelligence appear to be a result of four-and-a-half billion years of creative effort. That’s an impressive accomplishment, not something to be squandered. We’re given just a very short lifetime to use and enjoy, to observe and contemplate, to love, laugh, cry, and share our common experience of becoming. Life itself is a miraculous and mysterious assemblage of earth, air, fire, and water; cosmologist Carl Sagan correctly called us made of “star stuff.” Talk about crazy.

I guess I could call realizing “I am the universe” miraculous, either that or being here now is just dumb luck. Either way, it relieves me of the burden of searching for meaning or purpose in life. Being the universe and all that it involves offers plenty enough meaning and purpose for me.


One thought on “Universal me

  1. These are the ramblings of an aging insane boomer with the bully pulpit afraid to take any criticisms of his silly boomer-think. Go ahead and ramble gramps. Boring and pathetic as usual.

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