I am a speck in the universe. And much happier for it.
In February 2016, I wrote about how my life is a 400-trillion-to-one fluke, and that an unbroken sequence of events stretching back to the first man and woman had to occur to bring me here.
Incredible, too, is the fact that I get to live on this beautiful planet – one of 100 billion other planets in the Milky Way – itself one of 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe. I could have been frozen bacteria on Uranus but I'm a walking talking human being with all the sensory attributes that entails.
In other words, I've already won. No matter what I do from here, I've already hit the jackpot. To not grasp this is like winning Powerball then fretting over the price of Blue Grenadier.
Sometimes I look up at the night sky and wonder why I'm stressed about a deadline or some arbitrary goal. Seen from outer space, the concerns of this solitary human must surely seem laughable.
We chart our lives along a linear path, with thousands of self-imposed milestones along the way. We compare ourselves to other humans on this lonely ball and we feel shame whenever we don't measure up. Why?
Every soul alive today will be dead in the next 130 years. Like fans at a rock concert, we're all experiencing this phenomenon together at the same time. And then we're gone, every last one of us.
Fresh Tomatoes on Warm Toast
So, you're going to die; maybe sooner than you expect. The question is, what will you do while you're here? Will you work tirelessly to accumulate stuff and prove to yourself that you're ‘doing it right'? Or will you gaze up to the sky and realise you're a very fortunate little speck in the briefest moment in time? Will you look for the magic in the mundane and routine or will you live for a collection of signposted tomorrows?
As I age, I'm learning that the best moments are the ones I'm experiencing right now.
Two of my kids are almost grown; late teenagers in the early flush of adulthood. I look at them and wonder if they'll repeat the mistakes of my ignorance. I hope not.
I want them to realise the best moments are the conversations at the breakfast table on a Sunday morning. It's the aimless walks amongst city streets, drinking in the wonders of every street corner. It's their little brother's drawings and funny facial expressions. It's the smell of fresh tomatoes on warm toast and the morning sun pouring through the kitchen window.
I hope they'll pursue their dreams without a moment's concern for their peers' opinions. I hope they'll live deliberately, conscious of the fleetingness of their time here.
Many years ago, I knew I wouldn't be happy until I was a millionaire with a private jet and a successful company on my CV. I knew that the respect of my peers was a goal worth attaining. I knew I was destined for greatness.
Today, I know I'm lucky to be alive; to play this game for a little while. I know I'm lucky to live where I do; to have three amazing children; to have a wife I love and respect. I know I'm lucky that you're sitting here right now reading or listening to this. And I know it could end tomorrow.
So knowing all this, I realise almost none of my fears are justified. That I'm even here is an impossible lottery win – it's the ultimate success.
And with this belief now firmly rooted, I live each day with humble gratitude; with my mind in the present but my eyes cast to the next horizon. I step forward without concern for the outcome, happy to be a one-of-a-kind speck making his own little dent in this tiny corner of the universe.
And it's enough.
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