These are big questions that have no answers. We may believe we know, from spiritual beliefs or scientific theories…but we only have a feeling of what the answers may be.
If we look at the ground, and walk through the streets of our vast human civilization that spans all corners of the globe, with our towering skyscrapers, powerful machines, and groundbreaking technologies…we marvel at what we have accomplished. We have a command over the forces of nature, and have become masters of all creatures within our domain. How mighty we think we are. And how much strife we endure to maintain our place as the dominant species on this planet.
But if we look at the sky…at night…when there are no lights…what we see silences us. No matter how big we think we are, there is no greater reminder than the night sky of how small we really are. We estimate that there are over 100 billion galaxies, each with over 100 billion stars. Our closest neighbor, Alpha Centauri, is 4.3 light years away. Light travels over 186,000 miles per second. It is almost impossible to comprehend such vastness. Consider Mars, our closest planet, which is 35 million miles from us. It would take us over 250 days to travel that distance. It would take light about 3 minutes.
This puts in perspective the problems we face. Consider how easily frustrated we are over things we have no control, or things that do not matter to our lives. How often do we become upset over things that do not harm our family, friends or our health? Sometimes when we feel overwhelmed we should remind ourselves to look up at the majesty of the night sky, and realize how small our problems really are. Such a realization should empower us with a calming, mindful peace.
Feeling small from thinking about big questions should not stop us from asking them. It is how we are humbled by scary thoughts that reminds us of how far we have come, and how much further we have to go. Our collective experiences have occurred in a cosmic blink of an eye…and this should remind us of the precious time we waste. We waste it on little stresses and disagreements with loved ones. We waste it on suffering from tragedies that happened long ago. We waste it on unhealthy rivalries and fighting that lead to vicious conflict. We waste it on creating barriers between cultures and communities, expelling views because they are different. And we waste it on the cruelty we create, because we are all afraid of that unknown when we close our eyes for that last time.
We should all stop wasting this tremendous gift and realize something can come from nothing…kindness from us, to share with this tiny pale blue dot we call home.