If you’re ever feeling just a little too special, take a couple minutes to imagine the unfathomable size of the universe, the sheer enormity of its history, and your quaint, insignificant little place in the here and now.
Have you ever really thought about the history of just the Earth? Whether you believe in a god or not (we all know I don’t), I think we can all agree that Earth is a lot older than six thousand years. We know that human-like beings roamed the Earth millions of years ago, and we know that our recorded history only goes back a few thousand years (excellent article on this). Before that, before humans even came on the scene, there were billions of years of evolution from a single cell, to a tiny bug, to a little fish, up to giant dinosaurs, and back down to primates. Have you ever considered the incredible series of luck and chance that allowed this line of evolution to happen (this is where you God-fearing folks can chime in)? At some points during our evolution, a strong wind could have snuffed it out. Billions of years of tiny genetic changes, and we’re poised to boil it to death in the course of a few meager generations.
And this is just the evolution on our planet. How much existed before our planet, and for how long? I’ve always held the belief that there is other life Out There, that there must be - I don’t buy into the “God made us in his image” crap, and with the seemingly limitless supply of planets out there, surely one of them has birthed an intelligent species of its own, or is in the process thereof. But when you consider the incredible odds against that one cell becoming a functional, sentient being, you really have to wonder. But, infinite monkeys on infinite typewriters…
Consider your place among the six billion people on Earth today. Consider the place of those six billion people among the millions of years of human life that preceded them. Consider the billions of years of toil and luck that got us even that far. Consider the countless other planets hosting their own version of this time line. Consider the immeasurable period of time before those planets even existed. Consider this against the comparable nothingness of our race’s recorded history. Just how special do you think you really are?
Now, consider the insignificant minutiae that seems so important in your daily life. Is it really worth the effort to get pissed at the slow driver that got you stuck at the red light? Does it really matter that much if the barista messed up your latte? Do you really have to put off playing with the kids so you can get those taxes filed? Probably not.