Some of us stand at night looking up at the heavens and feel humbled and tiny and insignificant.
Some of us feel connected to all that is and feel a sense of expanded consciousness, as if there were literally more space between our cells.
None of us are “wrong.”
Being in vastness, whether that’s under a starry sky, standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon, or sitting on a pier jutting out into the ocean, has a way of putting things in perspective. But it’s important to remember that here, as everywhere, you choose your perspective. So how about choosing one that works for you and uplifts you instead of one that makes you feel frightened and small?
The writer Anne Lamott has a saying she likes to quote, which comes from her late father: “Every hundred years, all new people.” For her, this helps her put her day-to-day cares, struggles and emotions in perspective. She also finds it freeing: if in a hundred years everyone you know, including yourself, will be dead, when are you gonna carpe some diem, huh? What does wearing matching socks and playing by all the “rules” and trying desperately to fit in match up with a scenario in which, not so very long from now, no one will be around who cared?
So being in vastness and gaining a sense of “Wow, my problems really aren’t that big or that permanent” can be a great and freeing perspective. On the other hand, “Wow, I am really just a speck of meaningless dust and nothing I do matters” isn’t exactly a sentiment likely to make you want to jump up and down and execute a fist pump. “Go, insignificant me!”
Then there’s the other way to go: smiling up at the stars, or into the vast rocky crevasses, or out over the endless blue water, and taking a deep deep breath. You belong here, and you are blessed to be here, right at this time, right at this place. If you go very quiet and close your eyes, you may feel the energy of the vastness itself–does it really feel impersonal to you? Or does it feel like a great big hug from the Universe?
Another author, the late Michael Crichton, wrote about spending a night out in the desert and waking in the middle of the night to see that the stars above his sleeping bag had formed a peculiar formation, a message, even. What was the big message? “HI!”
Now, as Crichton himself observed, if he’s been lying the other direction, it’s possible the stars would have read “IH,” which is considerably less uplifting and magical. But he wasn’t, and they didn’t.
And so he smiled back at the Universe and whispered, from the cozy depths of his sleeping bag, “Hi back.”
When you are somewhere very big, does it make you feel very small, or does it help you expand to feel one with it all, part of some vast and wonderful design and creation?
Did you know you get to choose?