Don’t Sweat the Large Stuff

It’s hard to describe one of the most important things I’ve ever realized, even where to begin.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about life; the whole purpose, the limits placed on humans, what’s beyond our reality, that kind of thing.

I knew it was pointless, that no philosopher or mathematician in history had come close to finding the answers, but I still felt the need to try. Needless to say, I failed miserably.

One night last week, I reached the epitome of my hopelessness, at least in that respect.

I was looking at the stars, but my eyes hadn’t adjusted yet and it looked like there were flickering lights between them. I realized, for every little flicker of light I thought I was seeing, there was a star or a planet beyond the real stars my eyes couldn’t make out. I realized I’d never see them, but they were nonetheless there, looming all around me beyond my reach.

“Miniscule” isn’t enough to describe how I felt right then. I wasn’t having an “I exist” moment, or even coming to understand the immensity of the universe. It was more than that.

I realized that there are more things in life I’ll never see or understand than things I will. I knew for certain that there are truths I can never know and questions I’ll never answer.

I was heartbroken.

I didn’t want to just live my life, watch television, get a job and die. I wanted answers. I earnestly wanted to understand life and I had just realized that I’m not meant to.

Even through all the years I was strongly religious, I had never let it sink in just how much about life and its explanations we’re cut off from.

Then I heard “As I Sat Sadly by Her Side,” a song by Nick Cave that talked about that kind of thinking, “God don’t care for your benevolence any more than He cares for the lack of it in others,” the lyrics said, and they told me exactly what I needed to hear.

I can think all I want, I can read and learn all I can of human knowledge and religion, but it won’t matter. “God,” or whatever is behind life as we understand it, isn’t going to let us see any more than we need to in this life. Everything else is meant to be a mystery, and even if I try to push my mind further than others do, it won’t change anything. At the end of the day, I am limited and mortal, and I am going to leave this world without the slightest clue what’s next.

That brings me to the beginning of this column – the most important thing I’ve ever realized:

Why worry about what’s next? Why think about it?

Whatever happens after this life isn’t really our concern, and if we live as good people, I don’t think we should have anything to worry about. Peace with what we are is all we really need to get through our lives.

Now, when I think about life, that’s what I think about.

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