Every one of us hold some sort of position in society. Regardless of what you do or where you live, you always hold some position that lets others know your place in society. You’re a student, or a photographer, or a manager, a supervisor, and the list goes on. We like to assign ourselves personal tags too. “I’m a liberal thinker” or “I’m a nationalist” and a whole slew of other fancy positions we give ourselves to represent our views and philosophies.
But one thing that we don’t do a lot, is consider our position in the universe.
Our Position In The Vast Universe
We are on this moist rock called Earth, speeding around a hot ball of gas, which itself is circling a black hole, in an average galaxy. This galaxy is part of a group of other galaxies.
This group, combined with other groups of galaxies, forms a super cluster. This super cluster, combined with all the other super clusters, form the observable universe.
Let that sink in for a bit.
Want a visual aid? Here’s that picture of that black hole that you definitely did not see.
That black hole is 55 million light years away, that’s over 5 quintillion kilometres.
The numbers don’t mean a lot, so I’ll put it simply.
We will NEVER reach that black hole. Not even close.
In fact, no human will everleave this galaxy group. We are stuck here FOREVER.
Why would I say that? Well…
We humans have our fair share of arrogance too. We tend to see space as something we can ‘conquer’. As though space was made for us. But of course, that’s not the case.
The stars in the sky don’t twinkle for us. They just do.
The sun isn’t there to give us warmth. It just does.
Earth itself isn’t here to shelter us. It’s just here.
That may sound confusing, but it’s very true. Most things just… are.
When you really think about it, it’s easy to see why we don’t bother thinking about that. If it doesn’t even pertain to us, what’s the point? Moreover, it isn’t exactly the most pleasing thing to think about either. It’s almost… scary.
However, I implore you to try, go ahead and think about it. If you can, look up at the sky, or just close your eyes, and let yourself process. Process your place in the universe.
Go on. Take your time.
Now, you might be feeling quite… worthless, and that’s fair, considering that I just emphasized how insignificant you are in the grand scale of the universe. But it’s worth considering one thing, is that really bad?
What if we don’t need a purpose? What if we don’t have to feel insignificant?
This is the basic principle of Optimistic Nihilism. Pretty wordy, but it has a simple premise.
Optimistic Nihilism: The Premise
Surely, you have a bag of regrets that you carry around with you every day. Some are private mishaps, while others are public humiliations. It’s happened to everyone, of course. The point of this philosophy is to give you a sense of freedom, by considering how meaningless your mistakes are in comparison to the grand scale of the universe. It doesn’t really matter as much, since eventually, nothing will.
At first, it does sound absurd, but upon deeper introspection, it’s easy to see how you can implement this type of thinking to a degree in your life.
However, the “to a degree” part is important too. You don’t want to write off all your shortcomings as irrelevant, of course. There’s definitely a reason for you to get better and make less mistakes. So, do that. Take this in a positive light rather than using it as a validator for being a failure.
It’s quite easy to see where you can implement this philosophy in your life too. You just need to look at things a second time with a different lens. For example, if you make a massive mistake at work, school or whatever, in front of your peers, it’s very easy to be dejected about that mistake, and get demotivated. It’s happened to all of us.
But consider this, this mistake probably doesn’t matter anymore in another 5 years, which is insanely quick given the timescale of the universe. That mistake really doesn’t matter, at all. And neither do you. So, why worry about it when nobody else cares about it?
The Caveats of Optimistic Nihilism
That being said, you can still learn from that mistake. You can grow from this experience, so that you make fewer mistakes next time. Choosing not to learn from this, and instead opting for not caring about it, will only lead to more screw ups in the future. This mistake, does not matter to anyone, but yourself. So stop worrying about it and start learning from it.
Honestly, this brings a whole new meaning to the abbreviation YOLO. Your life may not matter, but you only get to live once. But YLMNMBYOGTLO isn’t the catchiest thing in the world. You get one shot. Try to make some sort of mark on Earth before your time runs out. Try to be the best version of yourself so that you can leave a lasting impression on the world.
You may not matter, but your legacy does.
That being said, this isn’t an opportunity to do horrible things since they won’t matter anyway. You need to progress humankind as much as you can if you want to leave a lasting impersonation in the scale of the universe. Of course, this entirely depends on your principles that you have developed over the course of your life.
You could be the one who invents faster than light travel, or you could be the one that planted a tree today. There’s no degree here. All good changes will progress humanity. So there aren’t any excuses to not do good things.
Moreover, it’s AMAZING that we are even able to think about such an abstract concept such as this. No other animal has this level of complex thinking, unfortunately. Humans are currently the most knowledgeable beings of the universe. We know more about where we are than any other living thing that we can see, and that’s really cool.
This is probably the most elaborate way to say “Hakuna Matata”. There’s really nothing to worry about for the rest of your days, since you don’t really matter all that much. Again, that’s the thing about it.
You don’t NEED to matter to anyone. Not to your peers. Not even to the universe.
So, use your one life to the fullest.
No pressure. Really.