We just recently observed the Labor Day holiday here in the US, and that means the end of summer for most people. It’s time to get back to school for most students and the summer vacation season has wound down and people have gone back to work. Here in the tourist destination San Diego where I live, the beaches, highways and hotels seem a bit more quiet now too.
Personally I love summer. I’d have to say that it’s one of my top four favorite seasons! I enjoy the changes that come with fall, winter and spring as well. It’s the never ending cycle of seasons, the inevitable result of our annual journey through the emptiness of space around the sun. I love to think of the seasons in this way too. They are for me a reminder of our existence within a solar system that’s active and constantly in motion.
Being a bit of an astronomy and cosmology geek, when I think of the seasons and the solar system, I can’t help but ponder that fact that there are other stars and other solar systems out there in space. In fact there are approximately 200 billion other stars in our galaxy alone, and likely many of them have planets circling like clockwork as well.
Now I could go off into the philosophical, scientific and spiritual ramifications of the possibility of other life and civilizations that might exist. But that’s not my point today. One of my favorite reasons for pondering the the stars and galaxies is because of the scale of things. We’re talking about numbers of celestial objects so massive, amounts of time so enormous and distances so incredibly vast that our human minds cannot possibly conceive of them in any meaningful way.
Yet still, it helps to give me a different sense of perspective on the size and importance of the events and experiences in my own life. Thinking about the immensity, longevity and grandeur of the Universe, reminds me that our own planet and each of us are pretty insignificant in comparison. It helps me to ground myself in the understanding that this human life I enjoy is a fleeting thing, spanning the tiniest, most infinitesimal fraction of a fraction of a fraction of cosmic time. I’m reminded that the seeming problems, challenges and upsets I experience are so meaningless in the larger scheme of things.
When I step into that perspective and see things in that way, I feel so much more willing to forgive and let go of any grudges and grievances, so much more ready to give up any feelings guilt, shame, regret or blame toward myself or others. I can recognize that those things are really so small, so pointless to hold onto. I understand that every one of us are really the same too – wisps of consciousness inhabiting squishy, physical forms for so few fleeting moments.
From this perspective I’m inspired to enjoy my life and to make the most of the time I have here. It imbues me with a deep desire to connect and create positive meaning from my activities and interactions. Because after some relatively small number of more orbits around the sun, I’ll be gone from here. My time will be done and then, after some additional number of orbits beyond that, no one will even remember or care that I was here. And that’s just fine with me.
For although I don’t get to choose everything that happens to me, I do get to choose how I think and feel about things. How I think and feel determines the quality of my experience while I’m here. For me the formula is to decline to take myself too seriously, to stay present, practice forgiveness, give and receive love and remember to enjoy the journey. In doing so, I can maintain a light heart and know that I’ve experienced a life worth living.
Now as our annual trip around the sun brings us onward toward fall, I want to remind you that the same goes for you too. You get to choose how you think and feel about things. You get to determine the quality of your experience of life too. So from that perspective, what will it be?
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