I urge you, friends, to take a quiet moment away from your day to uninterruptedly listen to this spoken word Bear and I found the other day. Quite honestly, Bear is the one who found it, and then we listened to it together on the bus ride home. It’s good stuff.
I decided to listen and write what I heard for a few minutes because a.) I like what Michael has to say, and b.) I had no idea how to summarize it without butchering it.
Everything is meaningless.
Most scientists estimate that the universe is 13.77 billion years old,
and that the earth is 4.54 billion years old
while human beings have only been on earth for less than 200,000 years.
To put those numbers in perspective,
if you stretched out your arms and your entire wingspan
was representative of earth’s geological history,
and then you took a nail file and took just a little bit
off of the edge of your fingernail
you would have just wiped out all of human history.
There’s this Carl Sagan quote about a photo of earth
taken from Voyager on its way out to deep space
that echos the sentiments of Koheleth, the Teacher,
in the ancient wisdom book called Ecclesiastes.
Here’s the quote:
“Look again at that dot.
On it, everyone you love,
everyone you know,
everyone you’ve ever heard of,
every human being who ever was lived out their lives.
The aggregate of our joy and suffering,
thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines,
every hunter and forager,
every hero and coward,
every creator and destroyer of civilization,
every king and peasant,
every young couple in love,
every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer,
every teacher of morals,
every corrupt politician,
every supreme leader,
every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there;
on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
So, here we are on this pale blue dot,
tiny specs of dust coming into existence for a moment,
hurling through space and time,
only to flicker back out after a few moments.
these are all we have in this life.
We work, we laugh, we cry
We make love, we write books,
We build empires, we wage wars,
and we often try to ignore the fact
that these moments are temporary.
That all our empires, and the gross national product,
our art, and our literature,
our three hundred dollar designer jeans,
all of our knowledge and technology, creativity and legacies erase.
It’s all going to flicker out at some point with everything else.
Everything and everyone is a vapor,
here for a few moments
and then gone.
This sobering thought can be depressing,
or it can be absolutely freeing
You can either go the way of many around us and ignore this fact,
medicating and numbing ourselves in avoidance of the truth of our humanity;
Or maybe there’s another way.
We could embrace it.
We could recognize our humble place in this universe.
We could recognize the silliness of human arrogance and empire,
and perhaps as a result we could learn to appreciate
and fully experience the moments that we have
as the gifts that they are…’