We are everything. And we are nothing. We are the center of our world. And our world is nothing but a speck in this vast universe.
How vast you might ask? A lifetime it would take to count a billion. And there are 300 billions stars just in our galaxy, the Milky Way. With about 100 billion galaxies – we are but a collection of a few atoms of personal consequence but in reality inconsequential.
We believe we are special. That we are everything. So we tell ourselves. Delusional we are. We are nothing but the results of a very low probability event coming true – the evolution of an intelligent species. Perhaps there are many more like us across our galaxy or the universe or perhaps there aren’t.
Lest we think of ourselves as special because we are both alive and conscious, consider that the universe itself doesn’t care about us.
Castles made of sand, fall into the sea eventually. Castles made of stone take just a little longer. All that we have made will turn to dust eventually. People fade away much faster and yet we believe that we are center of the world.
When billions of billions is the base, a low probability event looks like hardy resilience. Thrived have we, even without any superpowers. Compared to the animal kingdom, we don’t have any special talents. We can’t run very fast, or jump or eat a lot or sleep a lot (despite what some of us aim for with the last two).
We are now more than 7 billion. And yet we are fragile. 5 grams of metal, 0.5 grams of a chemical can wipe one out. Atoms when arranged fiendishly, naturally or by men, can wipe us all out.
In the face of death, don’t we all wish that we had superpowers – immortality, or the ability to fly, or any mutation that will at least make us look supercool.
But I fear that even the sanest of us will have moments of despair and who knows what we would do in those moments. No, we are better off without some insane powers.
We fear death. And yet it is from death that we derive meaning. Death gives us a reason to live our life today rather than in the distant future. In awe of death, we live. Humbled, grounded but not helpless.
Small we might be but act we can – for better or for worse. To create war, poverty and global warming or to bring peace and prosperity and create a paradise.
And perhaps we do have a superpower after all – one that can continue to act even long after we are gone.
Our words. Long gone we might be but we leave behind our words – words that tell of our actions and thoughts. We can choose to use our words wisely or create mischief with them. Our words then are our superpowers!
That’s the paradox of life – a mortal and inconsequential body leaving behind immortal and perhaps a few consequential words for humanity and the universe to hear if it cares.
This piece was written for an open mic event titled “Untitled” organized by the Grade 9 students of English Literature at Fountainhead School on March 5, 2019