“It’s true that I was hung over for the first time, and still naive enough not to understand what a hangover was. But these people, making their way through the morning, all their meetings and errands and obligations. And this was only here, in the station at this moment. The world was so big! The sharpness of that knowledge went away almost as soon as I’d boarded the T, but it has returned over the years, and even now sometimes – I am older, and my life is very different – I can feel again how amazed I was that morning.”
– Curtis Sittenfeld, from Prep: a novel
So I had a very baby weekend, at least for me. It started out Friday afternoon and evening. My little cousin and his baby momma brought his daughter down to the lake for the yearly family gathering. Little Alexus is so cute, she’s outgrown that whole “babies are weird looking” phase. We chilled a little bit, she’s not quite potty-trained yet and she doesn’t really speak the same language I do, but we got along alright.
Then my first friend came over to my folks’ house on Easter Sunday with his wife and three week old baby, which has not quite grown out of the aforementioned phase. It was our second meeting. She screamed the whole time! I’m not talking like little baby cry, I’m talking SCREAMING!!! Then they gave her a bottle and everything was cool, until five minutes after the bottle was gone. SCREAMING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was kind of funny when my buddy said I just wish she could talk so I knew how to help her out. I don’t know why I thought that was funny, but it was to me, maybe you have to know the guy.
So I got to thinking, isn’t it nuts that we were all that small? Even when we grew up a little bit, nothing in the world mattered except when was Billy or Susie going to come over to play, or when is the rain going to stop so we can go jump in puddles. Even when we got a bit older, we were more concerned with who was holding hands with whom and when are we going to the skating rink? Even in highschool and the first couple of years of college, I think most of us still had the idea that we were pretty much invincible. That nothing existed outside of our own little worlds.
Wasn’t it wild the first time you met an exchange student? You realized that people really did exist outside of the US. Or the first time you traveled to a far-off place? Even though the people looked the same, the different ways of life even within this country are amazing. I’m sure we all had that moment, the one that is all powerful and humbling at the time. It’s when you realize that the world is just this awesome, vast space with many different types of peoples and ways and customs, and then you realize how small and insignificant you might seem on the grand scheme of things. I can recall a few different points in time that led to this rationalization for me.
I think the important thing to remember is that, yes, the world is a huge, complex machine and you are but a small cog, but at the same time, it is necessary to remember that we all have our own niche within it, no matter how small or insignificant it might be. Even the smallest tasks need to be completed. Often times we are not sure exactly where we fit, but everything always works itself out one way or another (not talking religion here). Sometimes our niches even change, occasionally when we least expect it, nobody said it would be easy. We must also never forget to respect each others’ roles as they might not be entwined today, but they just might be tomorrow.
The next time you are feeling down and out about anything or everything, just remember that there is probably a bigger problem somehow, somewhere else and that opportunity is all around us to make things better. Sometimes it’s just harder to find than others.