You’d think one world is enough, and ours is complex enough as it is. And maybe there is this one world only (you know, inhabited etc.), although it doesn’t make sense. But within this world of ours I think of many worlds to which we belong, to which we give different names and that intersect in ways that make us aware of each other. To give one example, I met my husband because the world of religious observance (going to church) of one friend intersected with the immigrant world (getting those of one language to come together and eat, drink and be merry) of another friend. My husband’s landlady belonged to the first world (she went to the same church as my first friend), I came to eat, drink and be merry with my second friend. These friends knew each other and decided that my husband and I really should get together. So those worlds intersected. The consequence is my present 🙂
The food we eat (vegetarians, Paleo, allergies, intolerances, ethics, food miles, religion), what we do (art, crafts, gardening, library, trekking, history, travel, pubs, museums), the work we do (government, NGO, community, science, corporation, academia), the way we think and what we believe in (politics, religion, activism, culture) create worlds and we move from one world to the other, changing subtly on the threshold of each, meeting different people, behaving in specific ways that are recognizable to our group and belonging to each one of those worlds with different parts of ourselves.
We tend to judge people not only by the number of worlds they belong to, but also in regards to the actual belonging. The number of worlds is an indicator of wellbeing, for example. A workaholic would belong to maybe two worlds (the work and the home) while participation in society (how many worlds you belong to) is a common question in health and social services.
Actual belonging is harder to define but makes up the bulk of first dates, getting to know each other sessions and team building exercises. People seem to define themselves by the worlds they belong to eg I am a Christian/engineer/Liberal/cornet player/vegan/refugee/Cuban etc. etc. and that narrowing down is what starts the conversation, the selection and determines much of the communication afterwards.
Belonging to these worlds comes usually with the sense of security people crave. We therefore gift those worlds loyalty and personalize them, sometimes to extremes. They become “the way” and we resist changes. Sometimes it even becomes difficult to move between those worlds and we are shocked when we come in contact with unknown worlds (changing jobs, travelling to other countries, joining a club). We are at our most alert (for good or bad 😛 ) when we are in between worlds.
These worlds are human creations, of course. We live in complex societies and there are too many of us for one world only to be feasible. But we are, as a species, adaptable, with a reasonable tolerance for stress and with a brain that thrives on challenges, so we move between those creations of ours with ease, grace even.
Now, what about our big world? What about planet Earth?