Gain Perspective by Imagining the Staggering Dimensions of the World

Langhorne Slim said something (in an interview on the WTF Podcast) that rang true to me about heartache that he finds himself in lows and highs often (romantic and otherwise). I don’t remember the exact wording, but he said that you’re never too old to feel the same old childish excitement, anger, bliss, jealousy, etc. With age, people get good at riding out highs and lows of life and finding the “middle path” but at the cost of growing numb to the emotional roller coaster of the moment. That roller coaster adds something like “meaning” to life, if anything does. I try to embrace it.

“Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that are forever blowing through one’s mind.”
– Mark Twain

That said, while surfing these waves of thoughts and experience, it’s important to maintain a cool collected perspective on my place in this little town, country, planet, solar system, galaxy… I do that by pondering the universe: the immense stream of objects and events that overwhelm even the remote possibility of anything I do ever having any real value or anything that approaches immortality.

Watch this video, and as it zooms out in physical scale, try to maintain in your mind the simple fact of how very small we are relative to the universe as we think we know it. If done correctly this kind of “meditation” can feel like a hammer that just slightly misses the nail and slams into your index finger. It drags you away from the grand concerns of the past and future into the NOW.

Simone de Beauvoir put it well in The Ethics of Ambiguity, all while having sex with lots of her young students (both male and female):

“Regardless of the staggering dimensions of the world about us, the density of our ignorance, the risks of catastrophes to come, and our individual weakness within the immense collectivity, the fact remains that we are absolutely free today if we choose to will our existence in its finiteness, a finiteness which is open on the infinite. And in fact, any man who has known real loves, real revolts, real desires, and real will knows quite well that he has no need of any outside guarantee to be sure of his goals; their certitude comes from his own drive.”
– Simone de Beauvoir

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *