“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.” – Carl Sagan
When was the last time you just stopped what you were doing and looked up at the clouds? Or watched a busy ant struggle to carry a morsel of food twice its size back to its nest?
We forget sometimes to just slow down and watch the world around us. We forget that the world doesn’t revolve around our needs, our wants, or our problems. We aren’t the center of the universe. Sure, we may be important to a handful of people but none of us are truly indispensable. We may feel like it from time to time but there were 107 billion people who came before us and I would bet a few billion of them thought they were indispensable too. Guess what? They weren’t.
The world seems to be filled with self-important people who buy into the illusion that without them the universe will come tumbling down. Sadly none of us have the advantage of looking beyond the tip of our nose. If we could though I think what we would see would be very humbling. What happens when we die? Some sadness, some emails that don’t get answered or plants that don’t get watered but the earth keeps spinning. Not even a pause to mourn our passing.
Humans, or at least humans as we know them, have been on this planet for 200,000 years or so. The Earth itself is estimated to be 4.5 billion years old (for the die-hard Christian it is only 6,000 years old but that is a post for a later date). Today the average person in the United States lives to be 79 years old but that hasn’t always been the case. The average life expectancy for a U.S. man in 1907 was 45.6 years. In 1957 it rose to 66.4, 75.5 in 2007 and 78.74 in 2015. What’s the point? None of us are really here long enough to make a permanent dent in the universe. Honestly we aren’t here long enough to even figure out why we are here.
Though we are “lasting longer” our overall importance to the world as a whole really hasn’t changed. For the largest percentage of us our deaths will be marked by a short obituary in the local paper with a funeral or memorial service attended by a small group of family and friends. There won’t be an article in The New York Times or television coverage on NBC about our passing. For the rest of the world, 7 billion people, our death will be just one more unremarkable day.
Here is thing, our time on Earth is short. Most of us aren’t going to find a cure for cancer, or solve world hunger. We can’t fix the fact that we have an egotistical moron as our President or that he likes to pick fights with people like a four-year old. What we can do is make our little patch of earth a more loving, caring, and compassionate place to be. Maybe what will happen then is all of those little patches will come together like the blankets my grandmother used to make and cover more ground, spreading both grace and peace.
Look-up at the clouds and remember how small you are. But hold my hand, and the hands of others and watch what we can do together.
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh