Our Place in the Universe

We live in the presence of ourselves our entire lives. Circumstances and environments come and go, but our presence remains a constant. Except for a complete psychological breakdown, we will be a constant companion throughout the remainders of our lives. Becoming acquainted with our sense of self that follows us from childhood into marriage, and then to old age, is a good idea. Our constant presence in every moment swells our sense of importance. Other times conscious awareness of faults explodes our image into worthless fragments. Yet, the same person remains the next day—ready to witness another day of our life. Perhaps, we could benefit from knowing our place in the universe.

Our constant presence in every moment swells our sense of importance.”
~T. Franklin Murphy

We must process two realities. One story is the story of our life. We are the star. We provide the action. And, we are capable and important. Our actions have an impact on the future of our story. This is referred to as self-efficacy in psychology. The other reality is the story of the universe. In this story, we don’t have a leading role. In fact, our role is rather unimportant. We are small, unseen and a piece of a much grander whole. Michael Eigen wrote that “we are expressions of little known or unknown processes at work throughout the universe” (Eigen, 2019).

Both these realities simultaneously exist. Like Schrödinger’s cat, both alive and dead inside the unopened box. We are important and insignificant. Our place in the universe is quite complex.

Differentiating and Integrating the Complexity

Our well-being does not fair better by focusing on one reality while ignoring the other. We need both. We can enjoy small selfish indulgences, living in the grace of our surroundings, but we also must feel the awe and largeness of the universe, understanding that from dust we became and to dust we shall return. Consequently, we must view our existence on both of these realms, differentiating and integrating.

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”
~Aldous Huxley

Our country and presidents are nothing more than a speck on a timeline that has no beginning and no end. Yet tomorrow, as I wake, I must embrace each precious moment, feeling each spectacular second as it passes through me.

Let your gaze bounce between these two stories. Seeing your importance in your personalized story, while grounding those verses with reflection on our insignificant role in a much grander story—the story of our place in the universe.

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Eigen, Michael (2019). A Felt Sense: More Explorations of Psychoanalysis and Kabbalah. Routledge; 1st edition.

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