Thursday, July 28, 2011

Feeling small.

The age of the planet you live on is apparently 4.54 billion years. If you are lucky then you might live for 80 of those years. Some of you will live more than that and some of you will live less than that.

I could work out the percentage of time that you have on this planet but to be honest I would rather express it this way: if 4.54 billion years could be squeezed into the 24 hours of one day, you would exist for less than the time it takes a fart to leave your bum. In fact you are not even a fraction of a fart. You are a future fart that somebody is thinking about that hasn't happened yet and will happen without anybody even noticing. The farter will not even notice.

Feeling small? I know I do.

You will live through wars, recessions, depressions, times of peace, times of prosperity, times of austerity, cultural changes, moral crusades, and endless episodes of Spongebob Squarepants.

It's very difficult to exist sometimes. Life is big and scary and you are very small and fragile. The prayer of the Breton fishermen summed this up as "O God, thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small". I'm not a religious person so I prefer to just say that on some days I can't see the forest for all the trees.

I am a news junkie, I always watched the news incessantly, now I not only watch the news but I read it on my phone and on my ipod. I can't stop and sometimes it is very hard to remember that these seemingly huge events going on around the world are actually a tiny, almost insignificant part of our existence. Do you think anyone will remember Osama Bin Laden 200 years from now? Just ask yourself how many people (other than historians) remember Felice Orsini or Sergey Nechayev. See? I'd never heard of them either.

Things that appear to be huge events can sometimes turn out to be just a blip on the radar of time. It's helpful to remember this as you watch the news and it feels like the whole world is turning to shit.

The stuff you see on the news is generally stuff you have no control over. The only thing that you have any control over at the end of the day is the stuff that is going on inside your own cranium. It's a cliche now (thanks a lot John Lennon!) but the revolution really does start in your own head.

When I used the phrase "I can't see the forest for all the trees" a few paragraphs ago I meant to try and see the big picture or to try and discern an overall pattern from a mass of detail. The big picture is actually very simple and it consists only of all the people you know, your family, your friends and members of your community.

These are the trees in your forest. Like any tree living alongside another tree, you have a minimal amount of influence over the way they grow. Your branches get intertwined but how they interact is all up to you and the other person. Again it's very helpful to remember this as you watch the news and it feels like the whole world is turning to shit.

At the risk of sounding more and more like an auld hippy, time to end this post here. Just turn off the news, go outside and say hello to your neighbors. Try and use what little influence you have positively and enjoy the domino effect. Life gets easier that way and you'll stop feeling so small.



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