As a child, my father and I watched science documentaries as the rest of the country watched football. To this day, when I feel a deeper shade of indigo, I turn to space. A documentary, a book, it doesn’t matter. So tonight I came across this scaled map of the solar system.
UE Designer and fellow Los Angeleno, Josh Worth, made the map possible through the use of horizontal scroll. And what a scroll it was! I didn’t expect to be so thoroughly enthralled or for all my toxic thoughts to dissipate into a seemingly endless scroll of…..NOTHINGNESS.
It got me thinking about how humanity interprets and copes with its own insignificance. Not many centuries ago, we thought we were the center of the universe. As new information persisted, it quickly became clear just how small we really are. Not just in relation to matter, but in relation to space. There is so much ["empty"] space.
Whether you more strongly feel the monumental significance of tiny things or the massive void between them depends on who you are, and how your brain chemistry is balanced at a particular moment. We walk around with miniature, emotional versions of the universe inside of us.
I’ve always felt grateful for being the speck of consciousness in a vast backdrop of void. Like a fervid memory in one’s life. Life isn’t all memories. It’s mainly just time. At least that’s what seems to be the case when a special moment lived in time sinks deeper into the past and the moments spent between then and now start to blur. Space is sort of like that time between a fond memory and the present.
It’s reassuring to know that no matter how depressingly bleak or ridiculously momentous we feel, the universe, judging by its current structure, seems well aware of both extremes.
As present day humans, we’re all a bit myopic when it comes to imagining what something so disparate as nothingness really is, or what it isn’t, rather. Much less are we capable of delineating it. The thought of nothing existing before or after the universe throws some people into panic mode. It’s hard enough to believe that we as individuals will cease to exist. When I was a child, my thoughts looped the void that came before my own existence. It may sound pompous, but I found history to be a respite from the anxiety I felt from the thought of having not existed, because it almost gave breath to the extreme of nothingness I was before being what I am now.
Because of thoughts such as these, some prefer to live a muffled existence as an escape from the extremes that are found in the universe. Perhaps we can’t avoid the vast voids such as the space between Jupiter and Mars, but we can avoid our worldly voids, such as the price of fulfillment by not fulfilling, the pain of loss by never having, or the stabbing pains of the heart by simply limiting what you feel for someone. We try to be constant in an inconstant universe, because looking at the vastness of the other extremes makes us feel powerless; it’s safer to pretend we are capable of living in between. The authentically human concept known as, “Limbo”.
We are not insignificant.
We are merely an extreme.