Compulsive journalers, you’ll know the feeling I’m about to describe. You think you’ve just met the love of your life, or you’ve had a devastating break-up, or – lucky you! – you’ve won the lottery. So you describe the event in its tiniest details, down the geometry of the linoleum floor and the variety of ginger green tea you drank for lunch, hoping to capture every last groove and bump in the fabric of reality so that you will have achieved verisimilitude. There. You’ve done it. Encapsulated the experience once and all. You place your last period, put down your pencil, and close your book. You’re done.
But wait – there is always more text! Always, always, always! There is tomorrow’s journal entry, and the next day’s, and the next, until you die. Even then, someone else will be writing! Imagine the polyphony of everyone’s life story lined up one on top of the other, like a Tallis Mass with 6 billion parts. Though no one I know of has ever glimpsed it, this grandiose collection of parallel stories exists — at least, in theory, one could understand it. In my life, I will have the privilege to know but a handful of people; I will glimpse but a barest sliver of the story. And yet each person is a multitude! Each moment! The fractal nature of existence keeps me curious about the big-in-small. That’s why I keep asking questions.
Q: If a picture is worth a thousand words, then…how would 6 billion parallel stories look?
(journal image from http://www.thechangeblog.com/keeping-journal/)