Perseus Cluster of Galaxies

The Perseus Cluster of Galaxies

Periodically I need to remind myself of just how unimportant I am. A phrase I’ve heard recently, “We’re just a speck on a speck on a speck,” helps me consider my own insignificance.

Surely anyone contemplating the hugeness of the universe—and the actual size of it will probably forever remain a mystery—needs to acknowledge that we’re pretty negligible creatures in the overall scheme of things.

In comparison to the whole universe, we don’t even register as big as the tiniest of one of the millions of bacteria that inhabits our own bodies.

Of course most of us deep inside think we’re the center of the universe and that everything is about us.  We are sure that traffic jams and sibling rivalries and economic woes and world crises and appeals to help those world crises are all created in order just to complicate our own self-absorbed lives and to disturb the peace and ease to which surely we are all entitled.

On these days, naturally, when I am contemplating the size of the universe, it does dawn on me that said universe as a whole really doesn’t care if I can’t get a parking spot or if an appliance has broken or if someone unexpectedly has taken an intense dislike to me or if my heart breaks or I am getting sick or even if I get the *&%#@ (sorry–my frustration broke through momentarily) year-end reports demanded by the current bureaucracy finished on time.

And yet, somehow, those things really do matter. Yes, even those year end reports.

Let’s take plastic bags for example.  I decided some time ago that I would make my contribution to ecological health by carrying tote bags and never carrying out purchases in one of the ecologically death-bringing plastic bags.  So, I keep a supply of totes in the car.

Unfortunately, I  keep forgetting to bring them in with me when I shop.  So, my latest rule is that if I forget to bring in my tote bags, I must purchase additional ones at whatever store I am frequenting as a means of negative reinforcement.

Yes, I have a lot of tote bags.  All with different colors and names and logos.

In fact, I am envisioning the backseat and trunk of my car becoming so full of empty tote bags waiting to be toted in that whatever goods I tote back to the car will no longer have a place to sit. In fact, my car may become so full of tote bags that I myself will have no place to sit.

Now, I seemed to have wandered a bit from contemplating the size of the universe and my relative unimportance, haven’t I?

So, let’s try this:  what if my decision to forever forego plastic bags, no matter what their convenience (or inconvenience to my bank account) actually does matter to this person who is just a speck upon a speck on a speck?  What if the relative unimportance of this tiny speck’s decision means several hundred plastic bags a year never end up in a landfill or escape the landfill and choke a waterway or get through the waterway and choke a fish or get through the fish and disintegrate to a million tiny pieces of plastic which are ingested by tiny sea creatures which are ingested by larger sea creatures which are ingested by even larger ones which are ingested by humans and which eventually cause one human to get an incurable disease before said human ever lives fully to a potential that might help us better understand what it really means to live as a speck upon a speck upon a speck?

What if, indeed?

What if, as unimportant as I am, my actions make a difference for the entire universe?

What if you and I are important?  What if we really, really do matter?

Just a few questions for 2013.