We are all made of stars

January 20 2013

As with many before me, the Listserve email came as an unexpected surprise. What the heck do I have to write about? I'll just share some of the thoughts that often cross my mind:

I think about how I am but one of 7 billion members of my species, all crammed onto a tiny planet orbiting just one of over 200 billion stars in just one of the hundreds of billions of galaxies in our known universe.

This makes me feel incredibly insignificant.

I think about how I experience the world, and how my understanding of it is encoded in some 100 Billion neurons, and how rapid waves of impulses interact to form an emergent pattern that we call consciousness. I marvel at the fact that some clever molecules combined and evolved over billions of years to form the immensely complicated structures of life, and how each of those molecules are comprised of atoms that were forged in the heart of a dying star.

This makes me feel incredibly special.

Even though we are insignificant in the face of the greater universe, we make meaning for ourselves and each other. Each and every one of us is part of an extended family that spans the globe, huddling together in the dark on "a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam," to quote Carl Sagan. We all have the same fundamental hopes and dreams, fears and weaknesses. We have triumphed together over millions of years and built a civilization together. In the face of all of this, our problems and disagreements with each other are incredibly petty.

I leave you with a simple request: Think about our story, and where it's going. Think of ways to improve the world, even just a little bit. And above all, think for yourself.

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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