Solipsism:   The philosophical idea that only one's mind is sure to exist.
As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind.

"The Solipsist"

by Bruce A. Martin

     I have a strange feeling, just an inkling, that today will be my last day. I cannot be sure, but it just seems to fit the pattern of my life.

     I have explored all of the known universe, travelled to its farthest reaches, and contemplated its history -- all the way back to the beginning of time. I know all that can be known, and there is nothing more to learn.

     I've had a long and not unpleasant life. Lonely? I cannot say; there is no standard of comparison. In all my travels, I never encountered another living creature. Sometimes, I imagine the existence of other beings. But I know there is only myself. And the universe.

     I have divided the universe into two realms: "me" and "it". The first contains the mechanisms by means of which I can perceive the second and survive. These are various organs of my body, limbs and so forth, and senses such as "taste" and "hearing" to aid in my explorations. The rest of the universe, "it," is everything else I can touch or measure but which is not part of "me". (Perhaps there are a few more things, beyond my reach, such as forces which cause weather.)

     The universe is constant. I am not. I believe it will survive after I am gone.

     The universe is not a static thing. Sometimes a tempestuous sea that briefly tosses me cruelly and helplessly, sometimes a cacophonous bedlam that assaults my ears. But usually it is quite calm and very comforting.

     For a very long time I wondered whether the warm, comforting blackness of the universe surrounded me, or whether I surround it. Eventually, I realized that the question had no meaning. Since the universe and I are the only two things that exist, the word "surround" cannot be defined. "Inside" and "outside were naive concepts of my youth.

     I have traveled to the ends of the universe, exploring every nook and cranny of its infinite reaches in all three dimensions. Yet, there is another dimension, one which I cannot explore fully. I have named it "time."

     Like the universe, time is divided into two parts: there is the time of which I am aware, and then there is the time that must occur when my senses are suspended. I can explore the first part freely, but in one direction only. I can go back to the earliest events that ever occurred in the universe, and can relive them in my mind. (I can even relive the events where I relive previous events, and so on, ad infinitum.)

     That was great fun, for a while, but I have come to grow tired of it. It is boring, because it is so predictable. I cannot change an event and relive it differently. As I grew older and older, truly new events became rarer and rarer. Now, every day brings the same monotony.

     It is unlikely that the future will bring important new events, for me to relive and savor. There is no way to be certain, since I cannot relive events that have not happened. However, based on the experience of a long, long lifetime, I can guarantee that the future will not hold many surprises. As I age, there are fewer and fewer truly novel events; everything becomes more and more similar to the past.

     Well, now that I know all there is to know, satisfied every desire and experienced all the universe has to offer, there's no more to look forward to. What's the point of continuing? Boredom, Sheer boredom, all is boredom. Nothing new under the stars.

     I welcome my death: the one remaining possible experience. I have thought much about death, recently. It must be infinitely better than boredom -- if only because, in death, I would no longer be aware of the steady passing of time.

     Another storm is beginning -- I am not surprised. Maybe this is the end. The storms have become more violent and more frequent lately. My premonition is coming true. I am being tossed about and crushed. My head feels like it is imploding, as excruciating pressures push upon it. The pain is becoming unbearable, but I am sure it will end soon.,

     Suddenly, there is a brightness -- light. A shattering explosion of blinding brightness. I have never experienced anything like this light, before. The light moves. it hurts my eyes. I close them tightly, but it hardly helps.

     My body is being tossed around again, but very differently now. I am no longer wet. Cold, painful gases invade my chest. I fight to push the gases out, and there is a new sensation in both my throat and my ears. For the first time in my life, my ears seem to be sensing a sound that was not created by the universe. It seems to be coming from "me." -- from my own throat!

     Then, as I scream in uncontrollable panic, my ears hear yet another new sound:    "Congratulations. It's a boy."

T H E    E N D

© 2000, Bruce A. Martin
About 900 words