Feeling small in a big world


Shea Duplechain

1/12/20247 min leer

What a big world we live in

I was looking up at the sky after getting home from work. It was New Years day, and I had spent most of it in an office with my headphones in at work. The sky was clear, and I could see a good amount of stars. The big dipper and little dipper both visible to the eye; those are the only two constellations I can identify. Just running my eyes over the sky I was thinking about how far away each of the stars are from myself, but yet still visible to me. Not only are they so far away, but they have long lived before me, and will live long after me. How many other people before me have looked at those same stars, and how many people after me will look at them as well? It made me think about how sometimes I take what's most visible for granted. The night sky has such a natural beauty to it, one of the most beautiful things to ever exist in my opinion. How can such a beautiful thing be taken for granted? It's fairly easily actually. I would say most nights of the year I completely forget to observe the night sky, and I would be willing to say most people forget to as well. When it gets dark we just go inside, or the light pollution obscures the view of them anyway. So we go nights and nights without ever giving it any mind. It's quite interesting actually. Entire professions have been created around viewing the sky and everything that fills it. Immense amounts of technology has been created for those same people to study and learn more about it. For thousands of years before us entire cultures, civilizations, and great monuments were created because people were so entranced by the stars.

I don't think it's necessarily the fault of us today that we sometimes take for granted what surrounds us. It's just that so much of what was unknown, is now simply just common knowledge. That is indeed just a star we call the Sun, not a chariot of light pulled by a god across the sky. You are not an oracle that receives prophecies, you're probably just schizophrenic and that's okay. But the point is that the amount of knowledge that we have accumulated over the years has made us oblivious to what was once worshipped.

Aside from what we know today, I think the everyday grind of working to live has narrowed our vision of the world to just what's in front of us. My life last year was a bit different than I had imagined it would go. I went from working in the film industry to working a forty hour work week in an industry I had no experience or interest in. The days of working on creative projects and traveling were put on an indefinite hold. I would be lying if I said it didn't have an affect on me. The constant cycle of wake up, go to work, eat, go to sleep, doesn't really allow you to do or think of much else. It sort of numbs you into submission if you don't really put up a fight to keep a sense of self outside of work. Looking up at the sky the other night created some type of existential feeling. I realized how small I am in this vast world. How could I ever break free of this new life that I've settled in that seems to have no jump off point?

Doom and Gloom

I have a habit of falling into these sort of negative moods where it just feels like there is no outcome of happiness or satisfaction for me anywhere. I understand this is not a good line of thinking, and also maybe a bit dramatic I will admit. Because after all my life has not been very difficult, it's simply my own construct of what an ideal life would be like to me that I struggle to rise to. I do find it interesting, regardless if it is healthy or not, that we are capable of feeling and understanding what it means to be dissatisfied or unhappy with a moment in life. The fact that I am able to understand that sitting in an office is not fulfilling to me in the slightest is actually quite remarkable to me. Despite being unhappy with my work situation, its comforting to know that I am capable of feeling and understanding those emotions. Its comforting to know that I am not just a mindless bot or have just completely given up on any of my aspirations.

Something I have felt for a while now is the feeling of not being able to catch up. This feeling like I am behind on something is a feeling that I have always felt in some capacity, but it has also evolved many times. No matter what I do I have this lingering feeling. The constant urge to need more of something or that Im in an endless race. I need more money, I need more experience, I need more time. A never ending void of whatever it is that I am trying to attain. I think this feeling stems from less of an ability to catch up, but more so a lack in sense of direction. A feeling of needing to be somewhere, but not knowing exactly where that place is.

I think the main reason I get these feelings is because I struggle to stay present. I often think about moving places, traveling, being anywhere or doing anything that Im currently not. Because of that Im often dissatisfied with whatever my current state is, and that creates an unhealthy life. If only I could be there, my life would be so much better. If only I can be doing this, my life would be so much better. And that's not to say that having goals and aspirations is a bad thing. I think it's great to set some type of achievement or objective to chase. But that's where this comes back around to feeling so small. Everything seems so far. How could I ever fill the gap between me and whatever it is I desire? How could I ever save up that much money? How could I ever reach that level of success? How could I ever put myself in that position?

Where to begin

I think far too often I take for granted the little things that exist in my life, because I am too busy thinking about what it is that I don't have. I don't necessarily think this is only a problem that I experience, most people probably deal with this in some capacity, but I am only able to look at it from my perspective. Struggling to stay present in my day to day life and feeling crippled by my own aspirations and ideal life often become blinders to the joys that exist around me. I've been extremely privileged to travel to the places that I have, but it is easy to become lost in your own individual world. I have fallen in love with traveling, and its something I think about everyday. These moments, although some of my fondest, are not sustainable to try and replicate in my everyday life. I think it took me looking up at the stars the other night to realize that I can find beauty and happiness anywhere. I don't have to be halfway across the world to find a blissful moment.

As for the aspirations and goals that I have set for myself, the ones that feel as far away as the stars; I can still see them. I think I've always grappled with how I would live up to the standards that I've set for myself. Sometimes I feel like I've become paralyzed by them. Part of this I believe is wanting to save myself from failure. If I never start the journey I'll never get lost and never fail. It's a lot easier to shift the blame of never living up to them if they never got off the ground to begin with. Its always this or that, that's holding me back from starting. The reality is Im just scared of not living up to my own dreams, but also have this obsession with the perfect journey. Every step has to be methodical and on my own terms, but this is not a reality that exist. When you build a house, you don't just manifest that house and it magically appears. You start with one brick and then another. One brick doesn't look like a home, nor is it one, but it's a necessary step in the process. You have to lay that first brick before you lay the ten thousandth one. Eventually you begin to see the home take shape, but not after the laying of many bricks. Dreams can not be realized without building up to them. But part of this build up is also watching them take shape. Sometimes they will take a different shape than you thought they would, or maybe you even end up building something else entirely. That's what also makes the journey as important as the goal itself, because in the process there is much discovery to be made. You may even completely shift away from what you were even trying to attain to begin with.

As long as people have existed, we've dreamed about what is beyond us. This goes for both physical and metaphorical curiosities. As of late, I believe due to the nature of work culture, it feels like its become inevitable to lose your sense of self outside of work. I believe it's important to find your peace outside of work, to help you remember you are still alive. For me it was the night sky. Looking up at the stars, although reminding me of how small I am, also helped me acknowledge that there is still beauty and happiness to be found in relativity to me. It reminded me that the journey does not have to be this emotionless grind, it can still display beauty and happiness along the way. But you also have to acknowledge that these things exist and are there to find. You have to be open to experiencing them. Whether this be the coffee you drink in the morning, or your dog excitedly greeting you at the door after work. It's a reminder that there are pockets of peace to be found. They are reminders that it's okay for you to keep moving forward on your journey, no matter how stuck or bogged down you may feel. A step forward is a step forward, no matter how small it is. Even if your brick is a pebble, enough pebbles can create a path.