We are on a gargantuan rock, hurtling at speeds that no normal speedometer could measure. While we lament minor gridlock, poorly rendered season finales, and annoying coworkers, we are dodging space debris, pernicious extraterrestrials (maybe), and a gnawing uncertainty at how this all came to fruition. It is a tenuous, absurd, troubling, beautiful existence that makes each day its own adventure, each week a roller coaster, each year an amalgamation of infinite emotions, and our lifetimes an imprint that our heirs will puzzle over. It is a tragicomedy played out eight billion times over and then over again until our sun eventually fizzles or we otherwise destroy ourselves.
The sheer insignificance of each human life, when viewed in geologic and/or quantum time, should be depressing. Raised to believe that we are each special, the recognition that we are, at best, happy accidents barely hanging on to sentience can be unbearably heavy. But I actually find it uplifting. Strange perhaps, but when I am listening to a prospective client recite their quarrel with their neighbor or contractor or somesuch, I attempt to liberate myself from the stress by contemplating how little this conflagration will matter in the grand scheme, how the years will erase the import. Now if I was only as capable of distancing myself from my own travails!
Pointlessness is particularly hard to swallow for the overachievers, the hyper-motivated, those that measure their worth in their output, monetarily or otherwise. If nothing really matters, then it is hard to see the purpose of work promotions, of political machinations, of designer clothes, of fast cars, of sports championships, of any of the things that we spend inordinate sums of energy chasing. Taught and/or brainwashed into believing that success is externally ordained, we plug ourselves into the machine and let that which truly matters pass us by with a speed that will leave us forever in the dust, unable to catch up until it is entirely too late.
Shorn of any indicia of status, it is attitude, compassion, and energy that defines us as humans. Cluing into these traits, promulgating them, is our life’s work and indeed it does take effort. But, it is the most worthy of endeavors. The feeling of a hug, the pride at a daughter’s success, the scintillating bliss of a first kiss, the loss of time as we delve deep into a book, these are the feelings that may be chemically based, but whose joy we cannot deny. These are the simple delights, the reasons that we wake each day, the battlements insulating us from the terrors that daily surround us.
We cannot escape the bedside vigils, the vehement disagreements, the pain of a cracked leg. But, we can dull their effect with love. We can temper our pain with abundant and radiant happiness, even if we sometimes need to fake it to truly manifest it. Because, ultimately, we can choose to accept that challenges are inevitable, but that we can overcome them with the perspective that only that which we choose to validate will be valid in our lives. The universe’s rules are so macro that the human rulebook is a feeble attempt to impose order where none previously existed. Laws and statutes and codes are means of societal control, but on the individual level, we control our own destinies, or at least the way in which we react to them.
Fated to absorb the punches thrown by the collections of atoms that form the universe, we can at least do so with a smile and a wink. Nothing makes random forces more upset than a little humor at their expense.