Hey… there she is! What’s wrong? She’s limping… she must have injured her hoof! Oh no! Where was I?! Why wasn’t I there to help her?! I could have caught her when she fell! I wonder how she got hurt? Maybe she tripped on a crack in the sidewalk? Or stumbled when stepping off the curb? Or maybe she’s a gymnast? Yes, she’s a gymnast, a world-class gymnast… and she was hurt performing a dangerous dismount… but managed to stick the landing… and her team won the meet… and she took the gold! Yes, that’s it. I’m sure that’s it. Wow, that Lizzy is really something!
Hmmm, thought Ditto, would you look at that… a leaf caught in the stream. Wavering on the water, pushed against a stone. It’s a dry leaf, yellow and crinkly. I wonder how long it will remain here, softly battering the stone? I wonder what will become of it when I’m gone? I wonder if it will miss me? I wonder if I will think of it at night when I’m home? I wonder if it will still be here, softly battering the stone?
Yes, that’s how it is, thought Blurtso, walking a mile in his hooves. That’s how it is and I know that’s how it is, he said, walking, the only way he could walk, in his hooves. I might pretend to know your hooves and you mine, one hoof after another, after all, until we fall, you in yours and me in mine.
It occurred to me today, said Bonny, that everything in the universe can be described by a single word. What? said Pablo. Yes, said Bonny, all the diversity, all the different perspectives, all the different realities that people believe in. What word is that? said Pablo. The word “or,” said Bonny. Or? said Pablo. Yes, said Bonny. I don’t understand, said Pablo. Well, said Bonny, do you agree that existence is based on perception? Perception? said Pablo. Yes, said Bonny, that everything that exists is a relationship, that is, everything I hear, touch, taste, and smell is some kind of vibration interacting with my brain, which translates that vibration into what I know as light, color, sound, and smell. And without that relationship those vibrations would be no more than “one hand clapping”. Yes, said Pablo, I believe that’s true. So apart from my brain, said Bonny, or some type of brain, the world is devoid of light, heat, weight, motion, space, and time, because, like a current that won’t flow through a wire until the positive pole is connected with the negative, the vibrations of light and heat do not become light or heat until they have a point of arrival, until they interact with some type of organism. Yes, said Pablo. And because they interact differently with different organisms—the bumble bee’s perception of light is not the same as the donkey’s, or the human’s… the dog “hears” vibrations that donkeys and humans cannot… and though all donkeys are born with similar organs, some hear better or see better or smell better than others—the experience of “reality” is different for all living things. Yes, said Pablo, I believe that. So if someone asked you, said Bonny, to define reality, you would have to say that reality is this “or” that “or” that “or” that, depending on who is experiencing it and how they are experiencing it. Yes, said Pablo. Well, said Bonny, that is the philosophy of “or”. I like it, said Pablo, the universe reduced to a word. Too bad, said Bonny, it can’t be reduced to a letter. It can, said Pablo. It can? said Bonny. Sure, said Pablo, the Spanish word for “or” is “o”. O? said Bonny. Yes, said Pablo. That’s wonderful, said Bonny, a perfect circle, except… Except what? said Pablo. Our circle is incomplete, said Bonny. Why? said Pablo. Because, said Bonny, the universe consists of all the perceptions of all the organisms, so it is not only this “or” that, but this “and” that, “and” that “and” that “and” that. Yes, said Pablo. So a better philosophy, said Bonny, would be the philosophy of “and”. Yes, said Pablo, and “and” is still a single word. Too bad, said Bonny, it can’t be reduced to a letter. It can, said Pablo. It can? said Bonny. Sure, said Pablo, the Spanish word for “and” is “y”. Y? said Bonny. Yes, said Pablo. Well, said Bonny, “y” isn’t a perfect circle, but it looks like two rivers flowing into one… diversity flowing into unity. Yes it does, said Pablo. Of course, said Bonny, by its very nature “and” would have to include “or”… so the ultimate philosophy would have to be a combination of “and” and “or”. You’re right, said Pablo, and “y” and “o” make “yo” which is Spanish for “I”. I? said Bonny. Yes, said Pablo. That’s wonderful, said Bonny. Why? said Pablo. Because, said Bonny, it brings us back to where we started, to reality created by individual perception, except that this new “I” or “yo” is not the individual, separate “I” that we started with, but a comprehensive “I”, a “yo” composed of all the perceptions of all the organisms from all perspectives. That is wonderful, said Pablo. Yes, said Bonny, is there any more popcorn?
Harlan? said Blurtso. Yes? said Harlan. Are you awake? said Blurtso. Yes, said Harlan. What do you think about politics? said Blurtso. Politics? said Harlan. Yes, said Blurtso, all the corruption, manipulation, and self-serving contentiousness. I don’t think politics is any different than anything else, said Harlan. What do you mean? said Blurtso. I mean that everyone, said Harlan, does what is in their own best interest. Everyone? said Blurtso. Sure, said Harlan. But some people, said Blurtso, are more compassionate than others. Yes, said Harlan, that’s because they define themselves differently. What do you mean? said Blurtso. Some people have a very small definition of themselves, said Harlan, they think of themselves as a narrow, individual entity, and they act in a narrow, individual way. Others think of themselves as a family group—immediate or extended—and act for the benefit of the family. Others think of themselves as an ideological group—a nation or religion—and act in terms of that ideology. Others go beyond borders, and think of themselves as the entire human race, or the entire planet, and act in the self interest of all humans, or of all nature. But everyone is still acting in their own self interest, it’s just that some selves are bigger than others. Hmm, thought Blurtso, I wonder how big my self is?