When a meteor exploded over Russia last week with an estimated force of 20 atomic bombs, I was reminded of how teeny-tiny we Earthlings really are. I didn’t always think of myself in that way though.
As a youngster I thought the world revolved around me and that the moon was following my every move. Whenever I went for an evening drive I’d sit in the back seat of the car gazing out the window, and there it was, right above me. When I went to sleep at night, the moon was always there too, waiting for me to say goodnight before I nodded off.
I remember the first time I laid on the ground looking up at the stars, finally grasping just how vast our world truly is. I don’t remember how old I was at that moment, but I recall, for the first time ever, feeling overwhelmed, as I realized that I was just one of a gazillion creatures in an astronomical solar system we know little about.
I became more interested in the world outside my own after that, and I started to understand how vulnerable we all are. Not just to the mysterious stuff that’s going on beyond our own planet, but to “Mother Nature,” and anything that can happen beyond our control.
Ironically, this newfound realization didn’t scare me, but instead, made me feel more fearless. It still does.
Somehow understanding that I’m just a miniscule piece of the puzzle and not nearly as important as I sometimes think, helps me relax and enjoy life for what it is.
The news of the enormous meteor explosion over Russia, coupled with the news of the gigantic asteroid skimming our planet near Australia hit home and left me pondering my place in the world again.
Who cares if the house is a mess or I’m way behind with work or someone is angry about something I wrote in a column? I’m just one little ant doing my best on the big old anthill and hoping a giant foot doesn’t come crashing down on me any time soon.
Of course, this perspective never lasts long and I always go back to taking myself more seriously than I ought to. But I like to think that I’m getting better as I age. In many ways I know I am.
As the years go by I care much less what others think, and much more about being true to myself. We may only live once, so we might as well try to live as authentically as we can.
And when it comes to the stress of raising children, living life and working towards big goals, I do everything I can to enjoy the process. When I fail, I’m lucky to have allies that will help.
“Imagine today is your last day,” one of my friends will say if she knows I’m stressed out about something. “Cherish what's truly important, because you never know - you could get hit by a bus tomorrow.”
Or a meteor. Or an asteroid.
Remembering that life is a gift and that there’s no guarantee of its length can be like pumping gas into our fuel tank when it start running low. It’s important to keep on the winding road of life, and to thank our beautiful moon as we drive it.
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com