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17th June

The observer

The other day I saw a young girl carrying a linen bag with a sentence printed in bright letters: “We are the universe experiencing itself”.

I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but when I googled it I read that the renowned scientist John Archibald Wheeler suggested that the universe might have been brought into existence by its own “need” to be observed by conscious creatures. Alan Watts, the English writer and philosopher who interpreted Buddhist, Taoist, and Hindu philosophy for a Western audience, also said that through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. The pioneer of quantum physics and Nobel laureate Werner Heisenberg even went so far as to say that reality doesn't exist until observed.


I don’t know if all of this is true, but I have noticed that so much seems to exist only when perceived. If a tree falls in the forest, it doesn’t make a sound, it just disturbs the air. It’s only when living beings are around that this air disturbance is converted into sound through the signals our ears send to our brain. The same goes for color; it only exists in our heads when the cells that cover our retina detect light and send signals to our brains.

I wonder if the idea that things only exist when perceived might be an explanation for my intense desire to observe. Examining my life gives it meaning, and I must write down what I see because that is the tangible proof that I have observed the world and thereby brought it to life.

That way, my writing is not only the affirmation of my life but of all life. 

These are embarrassingly immodest thoughts. But then again, according to John Archibald Weeler, Alan Watts, and the slogan on the young girl’s linen bag, I am the universe. And so are my readers. 

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