More thoughts on insignifance

wonder baby

My last post about insignificance, relating to our size compared to the rest of the universe, got me thinking about big numbers.  It also got me thinking about the dichotomy of how insignificant we are as individuals in the grand scheme of things on the one hand, yet how incredibly significant we can be depending on what we chose to do with our lives.  Actually, scratch that.  We are significant simply because we *are.*  And that is a very hard thing to grasp, considering the incredible vastness of what is “out there.”  It’s also very hard to grasp in the world in which we live *down here*, in a world that places such a strong emphasis on one’s value coming from “doing” and “having” as opposed to simply “being.” What’s one of the most frequent questions we’re asked by people we meet?  “What do you *do* for a living?”  Sure, it’s a conversation starter, but isn’t it awkward when the person responds, “I stay at home,” or, “I’m unemployed,” or even worse, “I’m a garbage man.”  And then, there are the incessant conversations and social posturings about possessions and status:  Where one lives, what sort of car one drives, where the kids go to school, and so on, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

In my day to day encounters, even though I am no longer a therapist, I still come across many, many people who have strong feelings of “insignificance.”  Feelings of profound depression that are often related to feeling like they do not matter.  That they are invisible. That they have nothing to offer the world around them.  What often comes comes with such feelings are thoughts of being unlovable, unworthy, and other symptoms of depression.  These are crucial, existential questions that need answers.  Unfortunately, too many do not try to answer them, instead seeking to just be numb or, to check out completely.  Sadly, I know far too many who did check out.  Sadly, I even tried to check out once.

What does any of this have to do with big numbers?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Let’s start with this, first.  I am not going to sit here and tell you that you were “created with a purpose,” or none of that pie-in-the-sky stuff.  Frankly, I’m not much into that stuff.  But what I *will* tell you is this:

The average male produces over 500 BILLION sperm cells in his lifetime.  (“Oh dear lord, he’s talking about sperm.” Yeah, sperm.  I bet you weren’t expecting THAT turn in the road, were ya.  Sorry folks, but bear with me.  I really am going somewhere with this.)  Every month, that average male sheds about one billion of those little dudes.  During sex, as few as 40 million or as many as 1.2 billion sperm cells can be released.  (“OMG I am starting to blush.”  Get over it, we’re not in church.)  Now, on the female side, she starts out with about 2 million egg follicles.  Only about 450 eggs will ever be released.  And you know what’s going to happen next (cue the Barry White)…

So… there was that ONE egg out of the 450 that yo’ momma released in her lifetime (1:450) and that ONE spermatozoa out of the astronomical amount (let’s say about 500 million, or 1:500,000,000) from yo’ daddy that were fired off during that ONE time they had the sex that resulted in you.  You.  YOU resulted from that.  Now I’m not talking about God or miracles or none of that shit.  But just think about these odds for a second.  It COULD have been another egg.  It COULD have been any other sperm cell.  It could have been any other night that your parents decided to stay up late, watching Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno or David Letterman (depending on the age of your parents) and get frisky.  It could have been a whole host of other variables that changed the equation and caused a different outcome.

But it wasn’t.  It happened the way it did.  And here you are.  🙂

I’d say that you are FAR from insignificant.  I’d say you’re pretty damn lucky.  Or blessed. Or whatever adjective you want to use.  Sure, it may be “just chance” that all of those variables coalesced the way they did so that “you” came into being.  So what.  Who cares. Doesn’t matter.  YOU are still HERE because of that “chance,” and you know what, I’m overjoyed about that.  You may have had to endure a good bit of suffering as a result of that “chance.”  I have too.  A lot.  But I bet you’ve had some happiness too.  And there’s more to be had too.  And I’m still glad you’re here.

You’re here.  And the world is a much better place because of it.  I hope you decide to stay a while.  ❤





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.