Friday, September 4, 2009

You Really Don't Matter

One of the great things I like about living outside of the city is my relatively unadulterated view of the night sky. Even such a mundane task as putting out the garbage becomes an enjoyable experience when I stop at the end of the driveway, look up, and soak it all in. The smell of the trees, grass and water, the feel of the cool night air, the sound of the crickets and frogs, and of course: the seemingly countless stars filling my vision. But it always makes me think, "Damn I'm small."

I've blogged before about the concept of purpose. Specifically, that a man needs to feel like he has made an impact on his environment, that he can make a difference - that his life has purpose. Soberly, I know I will never come anywhere close to comparing to Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, or the like. But even the greatest of people doing the greatest of deeds for the greatest number of beings quickly becomes insignificant in the vastness of just our known universe - or, on a much smaller scale, just the history of mankind within a short sliding window of time. Heck, it's only been less than 2,000 years since Jesus walked the Earth, and millions of people have died disagreeing about what he did or didn't say or do, or even if he was or is what he or others said he was. Even what he looked like is conjecture. (BTW, I seriously doubt he was white.)

Now think about yourself. Do you have delusions of grandeur that you actually matter? Probably. At times we all do. But if you died, what impact would that really make? Your loved ones would be sad, very much so for a period of time, and your friends and co-workers would miss you for a little while. But everyone would get by and eventually move on with their lives. I remember how sad I was when my grandfather died, but now weeks go by that I don't even think about him. I'm not proud of that, but it's the truth. Over the past year, personal events have greatly exacerbated my fight with depression. So much so that there are entire days where I can't seem to shake the thought that there's no point in me going on living, other than to provide a paycheck for those fiscally dependent on me. The only thing that short-circuits that thought is the knowledge that even though they don't live with me anymore, my children do love me, and I love them too much to completely remove myself from their lives. If it wasn't for them, I'm fairly certain I would've emptied that bottle of sleeping pills by now. Still, their importance to me or my importance to them is only a relative concept we have amongst ourselves.

A few weeks ago I was sitting outside a Rochester, NY bar (LUX), people watching. I was literally disgusted, not just with them but with myself. All these people dressed up or down, drinking their cheap beers or overpriced cocktails, chatting away about nothing. Absolutely NOTHING. What kind of life is that? Seriously? And here I am, doing it too. And I'll probably do it again. Why? Because I've got nothing better to do? Grrr. Look at that tree over there. Wow, that's a big tree. Probably a couple hundred years old. A blinking light passes by in the distance. A plane. From that distance, even the tallest redwoods aren't even a spec of peachfuzz to the naked eye. And from the moon, the largest mountains are glassy-smooth on the curvature of the seemingly perfect sphere we call Earth. To our Sun, a mere 93 million miles away, the Earth is barely a circling gnat. And there are billions of solar systems in our galaxy. The Milky Way is so huge, that at the speed of light it would take 100,000 years to cross it. And their are billions of galaxies in our perceived universe. AND, if you subscribe to the "Big Bang" theory as the origin to our universe, then it is conceivably possible that there have existed multiple "big bangs" that have originated other universes. And we're still only talking about our temporal plane of existence, our dimension of understanding. If our sun collapsed and created a black hole, and sucked us all up, the truth is that the cosmos would not even notice. Countless theoretical civilizations on unreachable worlds would never know we ever existed. Hell, if you died today I bet your neighbor one block away wouldn't know, or probably care. Does anybody under the age of 60 even read the obituaries?

But we matter to God, right? Well, first prove to me that God exists. Wait, which religion's "god" or "gods" are we talking about it? The one predominant to our culture? The one that has the most followers? The one that's been around the longest? I guess it comes down to faith, "faith" to me being a best guess or gut feel that this is the correct thing to believe. The thing that makes me comfortable not understanding everything, that makes me sleep better at night, that makes me think that I actually matter.

Sorry to break this to you, but you really don't matter. And neither do I.