Have you ever experienced one of those random jolts of realistic perception that soak you in your own insignificance? It can happen at any moment; you might be sitting at the bus stop empty-headed and carefree when suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you spot a stranger swipe at a pestering mosquito. An unexpected empathy for the mosquito and a What-Gives-Him-The-Right attitude consumes you, launching you into an incredible internal exploration of your own worth and importance. Perhaps you begin to draw comparisons between the man hitting the insect, and the hands of time squashing us beneath its palms in an equally unprovoked and surprising fashion. Or maybe you begin to think about an even bigger picture, like how helpless-little-you could have done something about it, but then why even bother when you are just a fraction of an atom in relation to the density of this unpredictable and ginormous universe that we occupy with such astounding arrogance?
As humans we often stray from wonder, in fear that the infinite mass and perplexity of outer space will obliterate our confidence by reminding us that we actually have no idea where we are, how we got here, or for what possible reason we even exist. We are so afraid to accept just how small we are in this vast and amazing vacuum that we even do our best to deny playing any part in it. We speak of the universe as if it were some far away fairytale, just a fragment of an idea in someone else’s imagination. As though we aren’t all just tiny self-aware ants on one of the smallest ant farms around, launching ourselves along an invisible perimeter of the largest thing we can see from our homes, which happens to be infinitesimal in comparison to most of its fellow star-brothers and star-sisters.
How ironic it is, that we call the most colossal and incomprehensibly complex thing that exists, ‘Space‘, like it were only there to serve as vacant room for the eventual moment that we run out of places on Earth to store all of our stuff. Without wanting to get too technical, one of the most popular yet controversial scientific theories about the universe, first suggested by Edwin Hubble (the eponym behind the famous Hubble Telescope), is that it is infinitely expanding. This could very well mean that space literally goes on forever. How silly it then seems, for such a conceited species to think that we must be the most intelligent life in a world with no measurable end or depth. I despise the question ‘Do you believe in aliens?’ because it implores you to answer with certainty to something so completely baffling and unknown that an immense amount of its beauty grows from the absence of any sort of clue on the matter. Imagine how trivial we must look to an outsider as we take countless amounts of vain and predictable photos of ourselves and upload them to this little artificial, inwards universe we have created known as the internet. Perhaps we are too scared that if we face the lens outwards, the enormity of the universe will crush us under its astounding magnificence.
To gain an affection for the outside world, you need only look at it. Gaze upon the unparalleled glow of the milky way as it wraps itself around our sky like a silky, deft snake, engulfing us in a magnitude of surreal sublimity and grandeur. See the superb array of kaleidoscopic planets in every solar system, as they rotate in an untainted synchronicity, never once breaking their vow to stick to the path they have chosen to glide along for eternity. No blend of colours on Earth quite matches the convoluted cloudiness of a nebula and no light shines as bright as a newly born star. To me, space is as beautiful and intricate as it is unfathomable. The epitome of infinity, a reflection of ourselves in every brilliantly sparkling galaxy, each decorated with its own unique and profound array of solar systems. As we further explore the cosmos with rapidly advancing technology, running parallel with our rapidly expanding curiosity, it becomes clearer to me that acknowledgement of its immensity should be something to covet, not fear.
The more comfortable I am with playing my small part in this bewildering reality we live in, the clearer I can feel my own importance and connection with it. There are so many similarities between the universe and ourselves that it is fundamentally impossible not to feel huge once you have accepted that you are not. I know that sounds extremely paradoxical but I am not just referring to the large amount of physical similarities, such as the way a nebula can mirror the human iris, or the way a spiraling galaxy is reflective of so many perfectly twirled components of nature. What I am really referring to here are the metaphorical connections; the way a star illuminates the planets that revolve around it just like the things in our lives that we give the most light to begin to gyrate around us. Another terrific example of this is the moon’s gravitational pull and the effect it has on the tides. In a way, this is very symbolic of our connection with the people we love the most; the closer we become as we use our own kind of magnetic pull to embrace one another, the larger the waves of love and appreciation we have grow and crash onto our shores in a tide so high that it drips onto the darkest corners of our brains, drowning us in a very special and warm adulation for our fellow men and women.
In the same sense, there are similarities that truly worry me just as much as the previously mentioned ones inspire me and not the kind of worrying that people who ignore the perplexity of space and time are trying to dodge either. I’m talking about genuine, life-threatening concerns. As we walk along the hallway of our own egotistical and selfish ways, we head further away from the door to love and peace and growth, and closer towards that which hosts destruction and chaos. Even the brightest of stars can only burn for so long before they must perish to give way to new creation. It is our determination to work alone, to ignore the wonders of the universe and focus on improving ourselves as individuals instead of uniting as one, that will lead us to the same dramatic explosion as the stars. Curiosity has never started any wars, but greed and self-indulgence sure have. Now, with the disgusting advancement of modern weaponry, the slowly growing certainty of a third world war could have us all sitting in the middle of our very own supernova for without wonder, kindness and love (as corny as that may sound) the only way to grow as a planet will be to let it die and start again.
Look at it like this: if you were a goldfish, trapped inside a fishbowl that was sitting on a table inside a glass house at the very bottom of the ocean and you had the opportunity to look outside the house and perhaps one day, with enough effort, even explore that world beyond the glass, would you take it? Or would you rather stare at the floor, waiting for somebody to come along and feed you the same boring, cyanide and cynicism flavoured fish food you’ve always eaten, until the day you die? I could think of millions of other similar analogies but I think the point I’m making is quite clear. We live in an age where you can literally communicate with another human being on the other side of the planet in real time, through a series of invisible waves that seem to teleport themselves instantaneously wherever you would like them to go, just at the click of a button. The sheer magic in that process alone should be enough to convince you that if we work together towards a shared goal of exploring the mysterious and discovering the unfamiliar, the heights we might reach could be something of utter resplendence.
This is why, without wanting to contradict what I said earlier about intelligent life in outer space, we must all realize how big a ripple each of us can have on our world and if we stop focusing solely on ourselves and start focusing on embracing the entire world, who knows what we could achieve? Envisage, if you will, every single person on this planet replacing all of their greed and all of their bigoted, unsanctioned hatred with curiosity and awe. We are the smartest sentient beings that we know of, it’s time to utilize this gift in a positive way and work together to explore the hugeness that is the spectacular cosmos.
Considering the gloriously phantasmagorical image the stars in our night sky produce and the fact that they are, in actuality, just a delayed and illusionary representation of the insanely wonderful boundlessness that lies beyond, doesn’t just the thought of exploring space excite you dramatically? If we were to swap every gun on the planet for a telescope, I truly believe that fascination and amazement could manifest a kind of eternal confiscation of the negativity in all of us. Sure that’s being overly optimistic and I know that self-indulgence is almost a part of human nature, but so is our ability to overcome it. If you learn to indulge in humility and empathy, and ignore the supposedly persistent pessimism that smothers the fire in our hearts like a wet cloth, then the greatness we could achieve becomes monumental.
So please, as you veer your little meat-vessel loaded with this superbly elaborate consciousness and individuality through the winding roads of life, do what you can to help steer our planet in a positive direction. The universe is not just some illegible hieroglyphic encryption of time and space, it is just as much inside of you as it is around you. Although you may feel insignificant at times as the vastness of the bizarre place we live in challenges your individuality and importance, know that you are not just a tiny, accidental concoction of atoms watching the world from your spot by the window, you are an essential component of the most impressive and astonishingly beautiful thing there is: Life Itself.

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