May 30, 2024

The significance of insignificance

“We are completely insignificant in the universe—except to each other, now.” (Borrowed from a movie and revised slightly by me.)

We may look at the smallest creatures—insects, perhaps—as insignificant. I can either assertively or accidentally step on one, thus disrupting a genetic chain. He or she will have no prodigy, and I did that!

Yes, I stole this month’s quote and then edited a bit to make my point.

In the grand scheme of things, the universe being, for all intents and purposes, infinite, and time-measured from the Big Bang to now (being damned long), we ARE insignificant… except to each other, now.

We are the insect, only smaller and potentially less productive. The insect at least has filled a role in the natural order of things, having no free will but just to balance the design within nature. Many mayflies, for example, live for less than 24 hours in their winged forms, while some don’t last five minutes.

When time is accumulated from the Big Bang (approximately 13.8 billion years as we know them), how significant is the difference between the life span of a mayfly and that of the human being—currently 73.4 years (from several sources)? We humans are in the game for an infinitesimal moment in time, just like the mayfly.

Add up all the human souls currently breathing (around 8.1 billion today), and even that population [which is limited to a planet that supports life in a solar system (one of 3,200 identified to date) in our galaxy (one of between 100 and 200 billion estimated)] seems pretty insignificant.

Feeling small yet? I am!

Understanding my miniscule impact on time and universal volume, I’ve eventually arrived at the age-old questions “What’s the meaning of life?” and “Why am I here?” It all seems so futile some days.

A few of us reach out into the heavens in search of future domiciles. It’s something our planet’s population has been doing for hundreds if not thousands of generations. Physicists try to wrap our knowledge around understanding time/matter/distance to further expose just how insignificant we really are. Were I an astrophysicist, these pursuits might help answer those questions. But, alas, I am not… and you probably aren’t either.

So we are left thinking more practically about the neighbor whose dog poops on our lawn.

The spouse who leaves the socks on the bedroom floor.

The boss at work who makes us stay late Friday after work to get his pet project completed on time.

Also the partner whose glance at you in a quiet moment melts your heart.

Or the infant who reaches up to you for that last bit of assistance to stand and walk for the first time.

We are left with thousands and thousands of transactions between us and some of the other 8.1 billion folks who are also only here for a very short time.

While I can see how insignificant we are in the biggest picture, that is not how it is when I interact with you. In that transaction, you and I are 100% significant to each other.

And we get to interact like that with each other and all the others in our lives over and over and over again.

I do get to interact with the planet; but she is slow to react, so I don’t often see what impact I have. I pollute, for example. (I drive fun cars). I remove some flowers from my front yard, forcing some bees to hunt elsewhere. I suspect I don’t recognize most of these interactions. I’m not currently aware of any interactions I have with anything beyond the boundaries of this rock.

But most of the interactions of which I am aware are with my fellow humans on this journey.  And these are normally give-and-take transactions that define what we call relationships.

I have moment-to-moment transactions with dozens of my fellow earth citizens every day.

I do my best to enter those transactions in my Learner/Researcher, not judging, not expecting, not applying my Knower/Judger rules. It’s one thing I can do to increase my significance to you, and in turn yours to me. How I initially present myself can and will go a long way to determine the outcome of that transaction. And I want that outcome to be mutually beneficial. I don’t need to win. I rather want to learn.

While I may understand how insignificant I am in the universe, it’s taken me a while, but I’m beginning to understand that you are one of a very few I can be significant to, right now.

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