Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Keeping it in Perspective

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Nasa Goddard Space Flight Center

Tonight, we're inundated with numbers.

There are polls closing in seven minutes in one state and in another 45 percent of precincts are reporting that one candidate has 51.2 percent of the votes needed to capture 13 electoral votes which will put them closer to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

The numbers are being updated by the minute. Tick tock. Tick tock. Flashing across the screen in red and blue.

All of the furor of the past week, month, six months, year – all the ads and the rallies and the signs and the Facebook posts and the tweets and the articles and the dinner table conversations and the late night debates and the head shaking and the pride and the self-righteousness the rage and the dismay and the fear -- it's all coming to this tea kettle shriek right now.

It feels so massive. So consuming. The brontosaurus in the room.

I've been trying to keep it in perspective though.

We have to, right? In order not to lose faith. To succumb to the futility? 

So I've been looking at different numbers. 

Bigger numbers. For instance...

The universe is 14 billion years old

The Milky Way is 13.4 billion years old

Earth is 4.5 billion years old

Dinosaurs lived on Earth for 175 million years, dying out 65 million years ago.

Our ancestors came into existence 6 million years ago

Modern humans have been around for 200,000 years

Civilization is 6,000 years old.

In the scale of one year, the entirety of our existence has occurred in the blink of an eye. The last 60 seconds before midnight on Dec. 31.

All of the sudden, I feel very small. And all of this fury feels very small, too. An amoeba sitting on the head of a pin.

So here we are. The average human life span in the U.S. is 75.8 years.

Just a wisp. The tiniest fraction of the entirety of the universe.

In our country – one of 195 in the world – home to 318 million of the 7 billion people on our planet  – we've been deluged with all that divides us in the past year. 

Yet we are all made of the same stuff – the cosmic dust that exploded from the Big Bang. 

And if we could just, for a second even, remember that my cells are much the same as your cells, than whatever numbers are showing up on the screen at this moment in time, don't really matter so much. 

Because we are the same, you and I. 

And when we wake up tomorrow morning, no matter who got what percentage of what, we'll still be the same more or less. All things considered.

With this in mind, I go back to love. This thing that fuels creation, that powers revolution and evolution. If we spend more of the seconds, minutes and hours of our 27,375 days on Earth focusing on loving our neighbors then we're living more of those 27,375 days loving ourselves.

This is not to diminish the gravity of whatever happens tonight (but then again, gravity isn't as strong as we like to think it is.) Certainly, there's significance here in our lifetimes, anyway. But as you're going about your life, you know, dropping your kid off at school, shopping for your groceries, heading to work, etc. go about it with love. That's the strong force. 

It might not be quantifiable data, but it's what holds us together. 

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