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The world inside our minds

Last night I was talking with my wife about how much we know about each other, but also about how little we know about each other. It goes like this…

You’re thinking all the time, every minute of every day. These thoughts are around your daily life, and your past, and even your future. You think about the things that you need to do today, or tomorrow, or next week. You think about experiences you’ve had in your recent or your distant past, and you think about how you feel about those experiences. You think about your work, and your work colleagues. You think about the relationships you have with people. You think about plans and experiences you’d like to have in your future, or you think about regrets from the past. You think about problems, and you think about solutions. You think about your life in general, and all of its complexities.

You probably get the idea by now. The world that exists inside our minds is incredibly complex and detailed. There’s just no way we can share all of it.

My wife and I talk about many things, but mostly they’re the things that are most important to us, or the things that we think the other might appreciate knowing. How we live our life, and what we do in that life, is entirely personal and completely unknown to the other.

We might both spend 8 hours at work, interacting with others, doing interesting or boring work. But at the end of the day we might only share one or two moments of interest. From an 8 hour day, one interaction that might be no more than 5 minutes, shared in 30 seconds. And that’s all the other person will know of our entire day.

And the rest of our life and our world remains only in our minds, never shared, never known.

This is the same for all people.

All we can know of any person is what they choose to share with us, and of course how we perceive their actions. Seeing how they behave with us or others gives us a feeling about what kind of person they are, and we can form our own opinions about them based on what we learn of them – both from what they share, and what we can perceive about them.

But we will never truly know a person, because we don’t know their life, their experiences, their feelings. We’ll never know their world, and they’ll never know ours.

I wonder if that means we’re all truly alone.

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