I, like many other bored-at-work-type people, recently watched the Neil DeGrasse Tyson video where he reveals the most astounding fact about the universe. Here it is, if you haven't seen it, and if you feel like being good-touched-not-bad-touched by beauty today:
If you don't feel like watching it (what's wrong with you?) or you can't because THE MAN will see you, the basic premise is this: We are not really so small, you and I. We contain the universe. Every single of one of us is made of the dust of dying stars.
HOW FUCKING COOL IS THAT. I'm sorry, I know this is an old(ish) thought. I already had this information in my brain (somewhere), having stumbled across it in one fall-down-the-rabbit-hole websurfing session or another, but if you think about it, really think about it, it's just so mindbogglingly awesome. I have trouble forming coherent thoughts about it because IT'S JUST SO FUCKING COOL. I wish I could be more poetic but COME ON. An idea that big, that beautiful, is just screaming for some caps lock profanity. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.
I was in Chicago with some friends recently, just for the weekend, visiting for another friend's pre-wedding festivities. We went out to breakfast one morning and, as it was a Saturday morning in a busy Chicago restaurant, there was a long wait. As I stood within the throng of patiently waiting customers, trying to ignore the caffeine headache on the horizon and the gnawing emptiness in my stomach, I was overwhelmed as more and more people came into the restaurant.
"There are just SO MANY PEOPLE in the world," I thought, as I huddled closer to my own group. There are so many strangers, so many people I'll never know, never meet, and, at that very moment, it felt like each and every one of them was there in that waiting room. I began to feel smaller and smaller, more and more insignificant, as I gazed at the shoulders and backs (what, I'm short) of the strangers around me. None of those people will ever know who I am. I'm just like so many of them, a carbon copy. And instead of feeling like that meant I was connected to them, to these complete strangers, I felt like I hardly mattered. "There are so many of me," I thought. "WHAT IS THE POINT OF ANYTHING?"
Now. I can easily chalk most of that feeling up to hunger and caffeine-deprivation, but still, I do have to admit that I've been feeling a bit on the worthless side lately, if I'm being completely honest. I spend a lot of time questioning many of my decisions, wondering how I stumbled into this particular career, for instance, and how (or if) I can stumble back out of it. Some days I'm full of optimism, sure I can do it, all I have to do is take a little step every day and sooner or later I'll wake up and be in a different place, without even realizing I was going anywhere. But other days...other days, I can't see anything in front of me but a gray haze. All I can focus on is the success of those around me, their good fortune instead of my own, and I spend so much time wondering what they've done that I haven't, and even though I know the answer is most definitely something like, "WORK HARD, DUH," I can't help but think maybe it's never going to happen. Maybe I'll always be in this place. Bored most of the day. Unfulfilled yet full of regret. A waste of space and potential.
It's days like this that I really need the reminder this video gives me. That I'm OK. More than OK, really. I'm full of stars.
I was sorely tempted to make a joke out of this week's topic, because that's what I do. The oldest thing I own is probably...a book, maybe? My house? But no. If I allowed myself to be completely serious, I'd tell you that the oldest thing I own is me, those parts of me that hold the tiniest bits of the universe, the parts I'm still trying to figure out.