I’ve been thinking a lot about life lately, as I always do. I think one reason for my anxiety and depression is that the wheels in my head are constantly spinning; I’m always thinking, wondering, ruminating about life and my place in it. The more I know about life on Earth and about human beings and about how we treat ourselves and each other, the more depressed I get. We are an amazing species with so much potential, but instead of using it to work together as a team for the good of everyone, we more often use it to compete with each other; to beat each other; to kill each other; to drive a wedge between us and them and you and me and crank it until the divide gets wider and wider. It makes me fucking depressed.
But despite how sad and angry and scared the human race makes me, when I think about the bigger picture, I remember that human beings -along with everything on this Earth (and even the Earth itself)- are nothing but a speck of dust in the incredible vastness of the potentially infinite number of universes out there, and that no matter how horrible we are to each other or how important we think we are or how much we argue over shit that doesn’t matter and hate each other and kill each other over trivial things like money and religious beliefs and sexual orientation and political affiliation…no matter how stupid and selfish and spiteful we can be, none of it even makes a dent on the grand stage of the vast cosmic universe…none of it matters at all.
I am more than marginally interested in all sorts of science ranging from astronomy and cosmology to psychology and quantum physics: I find that shit fascinating. Concepts like the Big Bang theory and black holes and infinity and quantum mechanics and reality versus perception and the singularity are far beyond the reasoning ability of the human mind and they actually give me a headache when I try to rationalize them, but all of these theories and proofs that are too crazy and grand for us to grasp just remind me that there is something so much bigger than us out there, and that our trivial problems and our hatred and our anxieties are of less significance in the scheme of our universe than one dead bedbug in New York. We are just too small and insignificant in just too large a space to really matter at all -and that’s as an entire species! That one dead bedbug in New York represents humans and all of life on Earth in the entire known universe. Individually, we are so unfathomably insignificant that it is hard to even know what to compare us to. A drop of water in the ocean, perhaps? A grain of sand on the beach?
Speaking of grains of sand on the beach, consider this: There are more stars in our universe than there are grains of sand on the Earth, and each of these stars has the potential to harbour an entire solar system of planets, just like our own sun. And our entire solar system, with all of its planets and billions of miles in between, is just a tiny speck in our Milky Way galaxy. Then there’s our galaxy, which is just one of about 500 billion galaxies in the known universe. And of course, our universe could go on forever. Or there could be portals to an infinite number of other universes in other dimensions, and our universe could just be a speck in the grand scheme of the multiverse. And of course, along with the Big Bang theory comes the theory of singularity: a microscopic point so unfathomably small that it is actually considered “nothing” at all, but in reality it is a point where time and space cease to exist. It is from one of these points of singularity -much smaller than the dot on this “i”- that it is thought our entire Universe exploded from. And if the universe was able to burst forth from this tiny dot of nothingness, it is also thought it may one day collapse back into nothing, and all that we are or ever were will be obsolete.
Okay, I know this is all a bit much to wrap your head around, and you’re probably wondering ‘what the hell does this have to do with depression, anxiety and mental illness?’ The answer is: everything.
Not only are we connected to the universe in ways we have no way of actually knowing, but learning about the universe and our tiny place in it can be a very humbling experience that reminds us that life is not worth stressing and being depressed over, because in the end, nothing we do will matter. Life is not about living it to other people’s standards, because it just does not matter. There are bigger issues in the universe than how much money you have or what your title is or how pretty you are by conventional human standards.
For example, I recently decided to quit my editing position at HUSH Magazine. I know, I know, I played it up like it was really what I wanted, but the fact is, it was beginning to stress me out. As it turns out, when I did some real soul-searching, the HUSH gig was doing me more harm than good. It was a tough decision to take a step down the ladder, but I knew it was the right thing to do for my own happiness. Aha! A breakthrough!
I realized that most of what I do in life is shit that I don’t actually want to do because I’m trying to impress people who don’t matter. I’m trying to say “look what I can do! Look what I am doing! Look how smart I am! Look how pretty I can be! Look where I’ve been! Looooooook at me! Like me! Be jealous of me! I matter!” The fact is, in the end, I don’t matter. You don’t matter. None of this shit matters. So rather than continue doing something I don’t even actually like because I want to be able to call myself an editor because I think that maybe other people might be impressed, I have finally realized that life is not about doing things you don’t like to impress people you don’t like. Life is about doing what makes you happy for you and you only. And you know what makes me happy? Sitting around in my pyjamas on the couch; not putting makeup on; cuddling with my kitties and my boyfriend; watching movies on rainy days; going for bike rides in the sun; having a few drinks with good friends; cooking, cleaning, crafting and decorating; reading, writing (for me only) and learning -particularly about human nature, psychology, astronomy and cosmology. I actually enjoy these things! So why have I wasted so much time on things I don’t actually enjoy? The same reason we all play this ridiculous game: because we think we are more important than we actually are, and that what we do actually matters.
My grandfather – my mentor and hero- once taught me that if you stick your hand in a bucket of water and pull it out, the mark you leave on that water is the mark you will leave behind when you’re gone. At first the water will smash back and forth against the sides of the bucket, violent and restless. Then slowly, the water will begin to calm and will trickle out into a ripple. Eventually the water will be still and there will be no sign that your hand ever existed there at all. The same goes for all of us. When we first die, we might make a big impact on those who love us, look up to us or even just know us. But eventually, we fade away into insignificance. Even if we are remembered for years -even centuries or millennia- eventually we too will be forgotten, and what will have truly mattered is that we lived our lives in peace, love, honesty and happiness. What will have mattered is that we lived for the here and the now, not for the tomorrow, because tomorrow may never come, and even if it does, it will someday become nothing more than a yesterday.
I used to not give a shit about what anybody thought of me because I liked the shock value of living unconventionally. Now I don’t give a shit because I’ve learned that the conventional way is actually designed to kill us slowly and painfully with sorrow, anger and resentment in our hearts. It matters not what you “contribute” to the world, but what evil you do not contribute. The world will go on just fine without you, just try not to fuck it up while you’re here. Come down off your pedestal and face the reality that you are much, MUCH less important than you thought. Live humbly, respectfully and peacefully, free of narcissism and pride and jealousy and anger and anxiety, because none of the latter is worth wasting your time on, especially when all the time you have is an incredibly brief blip on an unfathomably small pale blue dot.