the opposite of loneliness
If the Sun were as tall as a typical front door, Earth would be about the size of a nickel. And if you set a single green pea next to that nickel, you'd have a good idea of the size of our Moon.
When I try to imagine 7.5 billion “humans” existing on that single nickel…well in all honesty, I can’t.
So why, in our 80-ish (🙏🏻) years on Earth, are we extending the historical narrative of violence and injustice and complacency? How can certain individuals feel entitled to shorten another human being’s already temporary hold on life?
Unlike in a book, human beings cannot skip over the chapters of adventure and mystery and loss and love directly to the last page; we cannot gauge how our story will end or peek at the names that will be celebrated and honored in our “Acknowledgements.” Fast-forwarding through my imminent, face-mask-required GRE is equally as impossible as pausing mid-bite of my nightly So Delicious Coconut Ice Cream Bar (dipped in decadent dark chocolate with crushed almonds sprinkled on top). Time manipulation is not superpower of choice; there’s no need to relive proud, monumental achievements or completely erase traumatic experiences.
All I want is enough time to be in love with everything:
the genuine smile from the hummus stand at the Saturday farmer’s market,
each vulnerable and captivating story shared by a stranger,
summer campfire circles that transition into star-gazing journeys,
the overwhelming realization that creation, destruction, life and death are the two singular experiences shared by all “things.”
Like all stars, the Sun will someday run out of energy. According to the Internet (and yes, I believe this because NASA says so), scientists predict the Sun is a little less than halfway through its lifetime. Our Sun is speculated to last another 6.5 billion years. Here we’ve reached the limit of our current astronomical knowledge. Oh, and remember that the Sun is only one of at least 100 billion stars in the Milky Way.
Compared to the Sun’s ~11 billion years of total existence, human beings are not even guaranteed 80. Is that proportion equivalent to the size of a front door and one out of those 7.5 billion specks on the nickel? I’m not sure. All I know is that sometimes I sleep through my alarm. Sometimes I forget that a California Stop is not considered legal. Sometimes I make an unnecessary and impudent (GRE word!) slights toward my sister.
We impose impossibly high standards on ourselves and, sorry to bring the mood (even further) down, but we’ll probably never live up to the ideal fantasies of our future selves. And that is okay. Knowing that our mistakes or “failures” are part of the natural progression of creation and destruction dilates my micro-focused self-criticism to the broader Grand-Scheme-of-Things view.
Tolerating unavoidable obstacles is essential for personal growth. It’s essential to employ discipline to analyse the root causes of the “failure” to ensure that you are equipped with the proper tools to combat future issues. Evidently examining our short-comings is emotionally taxing and leaves us with the desire to double-click the fast-forward button through that critical-thinking process.
The movement towards equality is ignited when we witness a fellow citizen die underneath the knee of another man in his community. To learn and furthermore progress from failure requires inquiry, openness, humility, patience, and a tolerance for causal ambiguity.
I worry sometimes that humans are afraid to help other humans, or that humans innately thirst for dominance over the “other.” Maybe, if every morning we woke up, walked outside, turned around, placed a nickel on the ground, and faced the front door for one, silent minute, humans would begin to appreciate the inconceivable pith of life. Maybe we would be galvanized to pursue the opposite of loneliness, or alienation, or segregation, or oppression, not just for the individual but for the entire population crammed onto Thomas Jefferson’s face below our feet.
Maybe we would fall in love with the fact that everything is so beautiful and so short.