Whenever I find myself laboring under some unseen free-floating anxiety like I have been recently I like to believe it’s not just the weight of my own life dragging me down. I like the pretend that perhaps I’m some kind of emotional radio receiver and the universe is sending out some galactic distress signal. I like to pretend that I’m picking up what the universe is laying down. This all makes me feel a lot better about my present situation.

Maybe aliens are invading.

Maybe they are already here.

Maybe a huge asteroid is on a collision course with the Earth.

It sounds crazy or it sounds like I’m joking. Either way I’m alright with it.

It’s probably some form of escapism. I don’t think my family or my therapist are worried about me though. That being said I can’t be sure they don’t have an intervention planned for me around this. And then I start to sound  a little paranoid. Forgive me.

It might not be a galactic distress signal. It might be, instead, a global signal I suppose. Lord knows we’ve got a lot of distress on this here planet Earth. At times like this I wonder if the planet is sending out big vibes to us all to look a the big picture reminding us that we’re a part of a larger family. That sounds crunchy, I admit, reminding us that we’re not satellites around a moon somewhere labeled “religion” or “politics” or “justice.”  It’d be tempting to make a “we are the world” reference but I don’t even think that’s accurate. We’re not the world. We are in fact inhabitants. In the grand scope of the universe we may be nothing more than ants on an anthill and then that feels awfully depressing, which explains the malaise I feel when I pick up those vibes from the universe. Damn universe, never seems to call with good news anymore.

There is a montage of images and ideas in Terence Malik’s ‘Tree of LIfe” which runs a solid 20 minutes. Twenty. I didn’t check my watch but I could feel the length of that montage. I looked it up later because it freakin felt like 100 years. Images morphed and evolved, swam and collided. It was nature, life, death, everything elemental and violent and beautiful. It was amazing. It could have been a film of its own. I was thinking that during the montage, perhaps this is a different film and then it struck me as I watched this lengthy bait and switch montage of crazy universe making imagery.

We are all so insignificant.

We are all so vital.

I may be reading too much into it. This may be way off from Malik’s vision. That doesn’t bother me. This is what I took from the darkened theater when I left. This is what I tucked in my pocket and what I keep pulling out and staring at when I have quiet moments when I allow myself to pretend that I’m picking up what the universe is laying down.

We are all so insignificant.

We are all so vital.

My problems in the small sphere, my local life, are intense and they are real. My pain hurts me. My grief is as deep as oceans. My joy is present and tangible. There is a movement of “going local” with things- politics, community, religion, groceries. I like this idea and yet I cannot help but wonder if while we were going global with communications, merchandising and social networking we stayed “local” emotionally.  We forget, I think that we’re inhabitants of the planet and that we’re one small planet in a solar system and one small solar system in a universe and who knows how many universes there are out there? Yet in our cul-de-sac reality the day we begin breathing a ripple of change begins and the world is suddenly different because we’re in it. The day we stop breathing a ripple of change begins and the world is different because we’ve been here, because we’re gone.

We are all so insignificant.

We are all so vital.

We are all a universe unto our selves.  Cells morph and evolve, swim and collide. We are nature, life, death, everything elemental and violent and beautiful. We are amazing. And still, we are inhabitants of this larger thing. We are in near constant communication with the life teeming around us. It’s nearly impossible to avoid the mass of humanity, the pressures of the world, the distress of the planet via media. It’s too much and it’s not enough. We’re not enough.

It’s no wonder that unseen free-floating anxiety seeps in. The universe has a deep, long reaching voice. It’s message has an urgency but the words are often garbled, muffled by static and stress. We know there is something here, something important but we can only just make it out before the phone rings, the milk runs out, the car needs tuning up, the school year starts, the job market crashes, the election heats up, the congress deadlocks, the oil rig explodes, the famine increases, the rain forest vanishes, the tsunami hits and we’re left only with a sense of pressure, panic, fear, foreboding…gratitude, grace, joy…

We are all so insignificant.

We are all so vital.


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