The Joy of Insignificance
The older I get the more insignificant I become. And that’s a good thing because I have found the joy of insignificance.
I’ve seen thousands of beautiful sunrises – the orange ones, the red ones, the spectacular ones. I’ve seen thousands of amazing and dazzling sunsets – those surreal multicolor sunsets – unpainted masterpieces painted on the fading sky.
I’ve been around the sun seventy-some times and rarely think about the distance I’ve traveled – but I’m sure it’s somewhere in the billions. And you’ve traveled the same road with me whether you think about it or not.
I’ve seen the rings of Saturn through the eyes of a child looking through a Christmas telescope. I’ve lain on my back in the grass on warm summer nights when I was a young man and looked up at a night-sky milky with stars. I’ve seen the stars and the constellations – I excitedly found the North Star when I was just a kid and never forgot where it was.
I’ve done so much in my life and when I look back upon it, I realize how insignificant much of it has been. I know that the legacy I leave behind will be the things I have written, and the people whose lives I’ve touched, but mainly what I leave behind will be my two children and my grandchildren, who I can say for sure would not be here had I not been born.
I see the world differently than most. I think we’re all rather insignificant. I don’t envy the rich or powerful. They are just as insignificant as those poor, wretched homeless souls that most of us pretend we never see.
What is significant about having a lot of money in the bank or being coddled in mighty mansions with high walls of security surrounding it? What significance does it have? What possible significance does acquiring a lot of money and things have?
What is the significance of having power and having others do your will? What can drive people to seek positions of power passionately.? Power is just as insignificant as money and things.
Too many distractions like money and power detract from the more significant things like sunrises, sunsets, and looking up at the planets and stars with the eyes of a child.
When you think about it, we’re all insignificant in the universal scheme of things, yet we love to think we’re not. We love to think what we think and what we believe is significant and those who don’t think or believe as we do are wrong and therefore less significant. We like to think that the poor homeless man living under a bridge and eating getting his meals out of dumpsters is only there because he’s lazy or stupid. Of course, we’re wrong. We don’t really know — or care — why he’s there – do we?
The universe in which our world spins is billions of years old. Our lifespan is around 80 years… not even a minute spark or flicker on the blanket of stars and primordial dust that spin around us.
The great people we honor with statues – the leaders, the explorers, the inventors are all just as insignificant as me. The men and women whose faces appear on our money are all insignificant.
Humans have been living on this earth for only a speck of time and in a flash compared to universal time, will all be gone. All extinct as dinosaurs. Money and fame and power will all disappear. The statues, great books, great leaders, great thinkers, homeless men and women, the magnificent buildings that reach for the sky, me, you, and everything else we know – will all be gone without a trace or hint that it was ever even there.
It won’t even be dust in the wind. It will be nothing.
So yes, we’re all insignificant, the rich, the powerful, the homeless, you and me. But I don’t dismay or feel worthless – rather I feel more a part of everything than ever before because there is a joy in insignificance although it may be hard to see.
The closer I get to the end of my time on this blue planet the more I realize how much I have in common with you, the homeless, and everyone else.
Our country is divided because everyone thinks they’re significant and they matter – but the only thing that matters is what we all have in common.
We all live upon this small, pale-blue planet. We all see the same sun and the same moon. We all breathe the same air. We all share sunrises and sunsets. We are all human beings. We all sleep and we all eat. We all were born and we all will die. And we are all insignificant.
And when you think about it, there’s joy in insignificance. It should bring us all together because it’s something all of us share. Blaming others for our problems, blaming ideologies for our distress, disliking people for their beliefs or their religion or the color of their skin is a waste of our all-to-brief time on this earth. Everyone you know or ever knew is as insignificant as I am or you are. And that’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing. It should bring us all closer together – and Heaven knows we need something to bring us all together.
The only thing that will be left of me when I’m gone is the love I gave -not the love I took -and the memories of me that linger in the minds of those I’ve known and loved.
And the insignificance that I shared with everyone else.
What’s important? The things that will be important to you on your last day on this earth… those are the truly important things, believe me.
Do your best to be on good terms with everyone. Don’t let little things become big things. Don’t be afraid to fail. Take advantage of every opportunity — even if you fail, at least you had a chance. Love your friends and family and remember they, like you, are not perfect. Forgive everyone who asks you to forgive them. Be kind and always be yourself.
I find great joy and peace in my insignificance.
Love one another and find joy and peace in your insignificance. We are all in this together.