Sunday morning Stoic: Perspective

Meditations 9.32:

“You can discard most of the junk that clutters your mind—things that exist only there—and clear out space for yourself:
… by comprehending the scale of the world
… by contemplating infinite time
… by thinking of the speed with which things change—each part of every thing; the narrow space between our birth and death; the infinite time before; the equally unbounded time that follows.”

I remember even years ago walking into work, feeling burdened and stressed by whatever seemed pressing at the time, and visualizing a view from above. Like in a dramatic scene in a movie, the picture in my mind would zoom out from wherever I was and let me see just how small I was until I was the size of an ant scurrying across this grand landscape. And then I couldn’t help but smile at the foolishness of my little worries.

When you fly and look out the plane window you can get the same sense of the smallness and insignificance of whatever petty concerns are tugging at you.

Seeing the really big picture – from the vast scale of the universe to the fleeting nature of our experience of it – can restore perspective and shine a light on the insanity of our daily worries.

If it freaks you out a bit to be reminded how small we are, how brief our time here is, welcome to reality. But it’s important, also, to appreciate how special it is that we can even think at all and ponder and marvel at our place in this perplexing, magnificent universe.