We are nothing more to the universe than ants are to us.

The difference: we are aware that we are insignificant. Or at least some of us are.

On this day of the transit of Venus, you should stop and take a moment to reflect on the real size of things.

Out there, this big ball of fire that’s thousands of times bigger than the Earth itself, is the only thing that’s keeping us alive. Without the sun, we wouldn’t have plants, or water, or life at all. Our existence depends on this astral object that goes on its merry way without a thought of us.

And this sun is only a tiny bright spot within thousands in the galaxy; and the Milky Way is only one of thousands of similar galaxies. Who knows if galaxies are not part of a bigger system, still outside our ability to comprehend and imagine?

Universe (has anyone ever photographed his breath?)

D. Reichardt on Flickr

We are not the centre of the universe. The Earth is not the centre of the actual universe; humans are not the centre of the Earth, and you are not the centre of human life. We are all little units of a system that is much too complex for us to imagine.

I love science-fiction because it provides a reflection of this state of things. Finding our place in the world is a constant human desire; finding humanity’s place in the universe is this same desire, expanded on the galactic level.

But it would be nihilistic to live with this fact constantly in mind. If we don’t matter on a universal scale, then do we matter at all?

But we do, we do matter because we are aware of our relationship to the universe. We matter because we know we don’t matter. And we matter because we try to understand our place, no matter how insignificant. Humanity finds meaning in discovering how meaningless it is.

This existence is made of universes within universes. What is the structure of your system? Are you the sun, or a planet? Are you the sun to someone and a planet to another? What’s your place in your many universes?


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