The Glory of Insignificance

huge-crowdI am occasionally flooded with the glorious insight of being insignificant. Though insignificance is commonly felt to be negative, my experiences aren’t.  Below I offer some examples of my experiences and I am curious if readers also have these sort of experiences and if so, what your minds do with these insights?

#1 Traffic: I am driving in lots of traffic where I can see lines of cars in several directions.  My mind drifts to other cities where I have seen the same: NYC, Osaka, Cleveland, LA, Seattle, Minneapolis.  I look at the faces of the people in their cars coming toward me and think how they all, like me, wish other people to think of them as special or important in the world.  Then all the city images seem to crowd my mind at once and the masses of people makes our aspirations to be important seem preposterous.  Then I am flooded with insignificance.

#2 Hospitals: I am walking through one of the hospitals in which I see patients.  I see sick, suffering people, their tearful, worried families, and the busy staff.  I start to feel the floors upon floors of the hospital layer the presence of all these people into my vision before me.  Then I think of hospitals I have walked in Seattle, North Carolina, Washington DC and in Japan, Pakistan, China, and Mexico.  My mind is filled with millions of humans trying to stop suffering and despairing of its fate.  And all this contained in the tunnels of hospitals so that I get an image of humans as ants in masses and yet arrogantly fooling themselves of being more than the mere frail organism they are.

#3 Storms: I am in a hurricane (been in two) or a severe storm.  As the sea swells and the wind shakes loose panels, I see how easily everyone on shore could be snuffed out.  And indeed millions have been killed over the millennia by the forces of nature.  But not just people, but animals, homes and memories.  Yet the sea and the wind care not.  Their power is fierce but calm and steady — impersonal.  Life’s meaning seems to disappear.  This huge power floods me with insignificance.

I have these floods of “visions” once or twice a month.  They are usually when I am around a large number of people but they can even come in simple coffee shops with just a few people sitting around or during holiday gatherings.  They also occur in grocery stores, shopping malls, sport events.  Whenever I think of many people doing the same thing, or people dwarfed by nature — when I look into the sky at night, for example.  The slide into insignificance is common for me.

When these insights comes, I first can feel a slight tinge of sadness but as just as it starts to expand, it is replaced by a deep pleasant restfulness of feeling, breathing and thinking.  My concern for significance is replaced by a joy in the glory of insignificance.  I feel a forgiveness for my own and everyone’s silliness.  I feel acceptance.  I feel alright being a simple bug, of being a small insignificant organism doing what I do like everyone else and everything else on this tiny planet in this huge universe.  I always end up in a deep rest with a soft smile coming upon my face and I continue doing what I am doing with a new light happiness. It even comes as I am writing this.

As a final note, I must say, that none of what I feel or what I write about is philosophical.  I am not thinking during any of this.  The feelings and intuitions just come.  They are raw.  I don’t try to still the sadness when it peaks its head out, and I don’t try to feel restful or happy, it just happens. There are no thoughts of gods or spirits, no buddha-mind, no universal-consciousness.  It is all just very simple.  I feel pleasantly ordinary.





Filed under Consciousness, Personal, Philosophy & Religion

10 responses to “The Glory of Insignificance

  1. I have an incredibly similar opinion. This is an enormous hope for me. There is so much opportunity in obscurity. Starting at the top is boring. Why do you think so many privileged children have so many problems? They’re numb to the average beauty of strife and conquest and struggles that most people enjoy daily. There’s no challenge and, if my short time on this little planet has taught me anything, it’s that people thrive on challenge.

    Why bother doing anything if it poses no challenge? Where’s the motivation to succeed if you’ve succeeded in everything already?

    I for one welcome the meaningless of our species and our planet, because that is what is going to drive us to the very brink of the universe. Once there, you can bet humanity is going to set up a bungee cord just because it hasn’t been done before.

    I’ve said it a number of times, but I’ll say it again. I love humanity.

  2. Fun, Sabio! I shall peddle this site to all my friends and every airport I land at. After I print up a large number of suitable pamphlets. I did enjoy this – you have an admirable mental landscape that’s fun to romp around in. Thanx!

  3. Jessica

    You wouldn’t happen to have any Native American ancestry? I normally wouldn’t consider this but a friend has been chirping in my ear about some extra-sensory perceptions and how they are linked to Native American peoples.

    Just a discombobulated, completely uneducated thought…. 🙂

    I have had a moment or two of “mass-conciousness”… something similar to what you say you experienced while seeing other motorists as you drive. It hasn’t happened often, though.

    I can sense certain things. How people are feeling when they write something…Whether people are telling the truth… Sometimes even via email or text message. I can also fill in the blanks when someone is lying or leaves details out… There are times where I have looked at someone and felt what they are feeling at the present time… whether they are talking to me, walking by, etc. I assume that it’s true and genuine because it has happened so much and been verified by people I am close to. I can’t control it and it comes when it wants to come. Which makes for some very queer insights. Sometimes they are significant and sometimes not-so-much.

    I even feel odd and uncomfortable about sharing some about other people because I feel like it’s an invasion of privacy.

    Small innocuous example:

    I received pictures in my email from a friend. I was living about a hundred miles away and hadn’t seen or heard from any of our mutual friends in over a year. Several people were pictured in the photo, but a mutual friend’s husband was in the photo also. There was nothing out-of-the-ordinary in the picture, but I told my friend that this man was cheating on his spouse. She asked me how I knew but I couldn’t tell her. A week later, it was confirmed. It didn’t really affect my immediate life. No clue why I would need to know something like that.

    I also know where to find things… where people hide things sometimes. Strange.

    Things like these make me wonder why I know and what in the world I am supposed to do with certain information. It has helped me out personally many times (when I choose to listen and not write it off as paranoia or “story-telling” in my head).

    I could share more but I think I probably already sound a bit touched…

  4. Hey Jessica, thanx for sharing.
    No, I don’t have any Native American ancestry that I know of. Though after years of talking to folks, I do think I am a little more sensitive to these sorts of experiences to most.

    The question could be:
    “How do we make sense of these experiences?”
    “Do we have to make sense of them?”

    For example, like you, I pick up on things all the time that perhaps I should not know, but I think it is my mind seeing clues and putting it together for me in the background. The answer could be more magical, but I doubt it. But either way, the outcome is the same.

    Concerning “finding hidden things” — heck, I can’t find things I should know about. I lose things easily — more than normal.

    Your stories were fun. I am OK leaving things a mystery. I won’t invent spirits to explain them, but I like mystery!

    Thanks again for the stories — you sound fun.

  5. Jessica

    @ Sabio Perhaps you are right. I do think sometimes that maybe I’m picking up on non-verbal or environmental cues without knowing it. That’s the way I explain it to myself.

    Most of the hidden things I find are those that someone would want to keep hidden for nefarious purposes. I must have missed my calling as a detective!

    I could be fun… like a board game… “Hide and Go Seek with Jessica”. “Let’s Lie to Jessica and See If She Picks Up On It”… “Pictionary Scandal…With Real People and Real Photos”.

  6. That is where I’d put my money, Jessica

  7. It depends on how you’re twisting the lens. The fact is that all-that-is is variously configured, infinitely recycled star dust. But we’re in a closed terrarium and somehow all of the dust works seamlessly together. To me that suggests a higher power, something between the dust that makes it work. I do think knowing that does take the pressure off to be anything more.

  8. @ MS: I wonder what the heck “works seamlessly together” means? What would the 10,000 thing [a Taoist allusion for readers who don’t get her allusion] look like if they weren’t working together seamlessly. I don’t buy into the New Age thinking about the beautiful loving universe. And I have no idea what your last sentence means. Please remember, this is not a poetry blog where any words thrown together are treasured. Smile

  9. I found this article most interesting. I too think about my insignificance. Yet I see ants and bees totally focused on thier life and it seems we humans aren’t much different! And yet as I age I still would like to think my life meant something that has a lasting, if not an eternal quality about it. They I refocus and settle into the life I have and am thankful for the blessings I have experience and am continuing to enjoy, my insignificance really does not matter at all!

  10. @ roth: You said, “as I age I still would like to think my life meant something that has a lasting”. One of my Japanese medical teachers once said to me that he looks at his life as dipping his hand in a pond, making small ripples, that merge/cancel/peak with the ripples of many others. Hope for significance is universal but the unpredictable nebulosity of all things can also be savored. And as Voltaire’s ‘hero’, in Candide, states, “we must tend our own garden”. I agree with you feeling that tension. Thanx for dropping in.

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