Science Reminds Me I Am Small But I Need to ‘Think Big’

Despite my depression, PTSD and anxiety, I am a naturally an easily excitable person. It’s a telling trait to those who know me. I love the Muppets and Sailor Moon and Star Wars and most books and board games. But there is nothing I love more than science. Any time I notice stars in the sky while I am outside walking my dog in the evening, I am likely to stop dead in my tracks in awe.

The universe is vast, and as far as we know, it’s only getting bigger. I understand that for some people, this is a terrifying prospect. If everything is so big, and we really live on nothing more than a pale blue dot, what could we possibly do that matters?

“Pale Blue Dot,” Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990, NASA

“Pale Blue Dot,” Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990, NASA

Well, for one, it gives me purpose and perspective.

Since we’re so small, anything we try to do won’t have a true impact unless it’s ginormous. Meanwhile, for one reason or another, the negative things people do and say around us tend to feel huge. They become reminders of the falsity that we are small, with little to offer the world. To me, that just means that every hug, every confession of love needs to be bigger and bolder, so that all the negative things, such as fighting and anger, appear ever smaller.

The universe is dark, vast and scary. Sometimes just our planet feels terrifying and daunting, but that doesn’t mean you’re small or unimportant. It means that in your small corner, making a big difference in someone else’s small corner is even more important.

Your kind act might feel big to the person receiving it. It might be forgotten soon, because of how we understand time relative to those around us, but that’s all the more reason to keep up your kind deeds. Then, lot’s of small yet generous acts over a period of time, lead to an overall big picture of positivity the same way a concentrated amount of negativity will do otherwise.

The universe is random, abiding by the law of entropy. Take a moment to consider the odds of each of us coming into being. Perhaps then you will feel lucky, or better yet, inspired to make your time here memorable. Coming into being out of pure chaos is an enthralling notion — of all the tiny particles in the universe — you became you.

You are exactly as you need to be, and science has helped ensure you live your best life, whatever that may be. With a disability, with some other perceived social stigma — there is no doubt that you have beaten the odds and the chaos.

Quote, Neil deGrasse Tyson,  Astrophysics for People in a Hurry,  W. W. Norton Company, 2017

Quote, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, W. W. Norton Company, 2017

Evolution tells us that your ancestors survived and thrived for generations in order for each of us to come to be. When considering the chaos and the natural threats we have already overcome just within our species (both man-made and natural), the idea of taking my own life feels absolutely illogical, and maybe even kind of absurd. Suddenly, my worst thoughts, are justthoughts.

Space and science are what I perceive to be the few perpetual promotors of progress. Individual people, and in some cases, societies, might feel stagnant and regressive even. But science? Even when scientists are working on something that is unsuccessful or questionable, the teachable lesson is always implemented, and momentum is incrementally gained. Things like academic review and the scientific method inspire in my optimism, as they were set to ensure exactly such progress.

The Milky Way, NASA, 2006

The Milky Way, NASA, 2006

And so it goes…

Light takes years to travel to us, and our planet is made up of stardust. Yet, it all comes together. Darkness takes light and absorbs it, which means more light is needed to continue to bring warmth and allow for life to exist. I see the big, dark, universe I am surrounded by as clearly as I see the small dark galaxy inside of my depressive mind and want to create light in both.

Looking out into the stars, I feel small. I know I have very little to do with what happens to me, yet somehow, it’s all set for me to continue to evolve and create. I can do big things by working on the immediate small universe inside of me to ensure it gets used to positively affect my surroundings. I can let my fear go, knowing that by being small, a have the means to make something big.

It’s truly, a relative perspective.