It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. We’ve had a lot of snow and ice, the wife and kids left town for a trip to visit friends, and I have had to take care of the farm. Then I fell ill with the flu. I greatly dislike being alone when I’m sick. It got me thinking about how alone we all are in this world. Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a doom and gloom, depressing, woe is me sort of post. But let’s face it. At the end of the day, when we really face reality, we are not our spouses, we are not our children, we are not our friends. We have to, at some point in our lives accept the fact that we are fundamentally alone. And we should get comfortable with that. It can be very daunting and scary, but it can also create peace. Because accepting the truth brings peace.
Then, at some point over the weekend, I saw this. (Sorry, you may have to copy the link and paste it into your browser. The free version of WordPress doesn’t seem to want me to use the fancy “link” option.)
Hopefully, you’ve taken a look at that. If not, it shows what the Hubble Deep Field camera saw in 2003 when it pointed it’s lens into a small, seemingly empty spot in space. What it found, after four months of exposure, was utterly fascinating. In that ONE little section of space (and believe me, it was a VERY minute section of the sky, roughly 1/10 the size of the moon) they were able to see over 10,000 galaxies. That’s galaxies. Not stars. Galaxies.
Let’s just look at our own galaxy, the Milky Way. So, our sun is just ONE of anywhere from 100 to 400 MILLION stars in the Milky Way. Our sun has it’s fans, the planets, circling around it. It’s estimated that there maybe as many planets circling the stars in the milky way as there are stars. Possibly a lot more. THAT is mind blowing in itself. So, here we are, one itty-bitty planet, the third from the sun, one of possibly hundreds of millions, if not billions.
You know what just hit me, the odds of winning the Powerball are roughly 1 in 175 million. Kind of funny, isn’t it? Do you think that those are the odds for having just one planet in our galaxy having life on it?
Now, take that picture from Hubble. That picture from that very small, dark section of space. The section that revealed 10,000 galaxies. The smallest galaxies, dwarf galaxies, can have several billion stars. The largest “giant” galaxy can have hundreds of trillions. So in that ONE little section of space, where there were 10,000 galaxies, we were seeing approximately 1e+16, or 1 times 10 to the 16th power of stars. That is this many: 10,000,000,000,000,000. I don’t even know the word for this. Now, consider that some of the stars may have, in fact, probably have, planets orbiting them, like our sun. Whoa. Mind blowing.
Where am I going with all of this? I’m really not sure. Except that I am reminded of a conversation I was having with a friend who was embroiled in a nasty situation with other friends. There was gossip, back-stabbing, lying, double-crosing, and treachery. All from people who professed to be friends to each other. When you stop and look at things from a larger perspective, does any of that shit matter? Really? What DOES matter?
We are small and we have very little time here. My maternal grandfather, a WWII veteran, and I went for a walk when I was young. He was a quiet man. He didn’t give me much advice, but on this walk, he did. He only said this one thing, and it has stayed with me always: “Michael,” he said, “Life is short.” That’s all he said. And on we went in silence. I didn’t understand it then. Later on, after his death, when I learned of the difficulties in his life, partly brought about by his own choices, I wondered if he was speaking about his own regret. About things that maybe he wishes he should have done differently. Whatever he meant, I know what it means for me: Life is too damn short to be wasted on insignificant bullshit.
And as for our insignificant position in the universe, I think that is relative. I may be insignificant relative to other stars and planets in the Milky Way or in relation to the vast universe, but I can be extremely significant in my little, infinitesimally small place that I currently occupy, if I choose to be. I can be an instrument for change, for peace, for spreading healing, especially when I have used a lot of my life thus far for spreading discord and hurt.
Time is short.