The Significance of Insignificance
Companionship, nourishment, peace – among these needs of life there is one more. Significance. We may be rich and famous; we may have lived a healthy life - all this feels like pennies to a person who does not find significance. So we try – try – try to find this significance. However, there is a flaw. Searching for significance is like trying to find the color eight. It doesn’t work. Just as we are about to find our own significance, we find someone who is more significant. Significance isn’t a comparison game. You don’t become bad just because someone else is better.
Are the Rocky Mountains significant? Massive. Unchanging. Resolute. When you gaze at a mountains’ peak what do you feel? I feel an aw. An appreciation for the muscle it displays; the strength of the cliffs. I also feel like a nobody. Here’s a Mountain - home to many forms of life and thousands of meters high. And here’s me. Home to myself and 2 meters high. Poor me. . . Or perhaps not. Isn’t it funny? Instead of writhing in pity over the smallness of myself, and the largeness of the peak, I feel something greater. There is more. There is purpose. Beauty is an object. I feel an exhilarating significance.
Consider the Skyscrapers of Chicago. These towers loom over us like kings, housing those far more powerful than us mere mortals crawling the earth’s surface. Like giants they reach closer to the heavens than we ever could. By every right, one should feel a sense of jealousy towards these unfeeling subjects, standing so proud above the crowd. Yet this is not the feeling we inscribe. Instead, we feel wonder. Perhaps satisfaction that we are part of a human race who’ve harnessed such monuments. We first feel our own smallness but then realize our significance.
And then there’s the ocean. Standing ashore, breathing in the sweet air, we feel the pounding of waves. Some may feel terror. This is justified. The ocean has depths unknown, species undiscovered, and has hulked many cities. Like beholding the mountains or cloud piercing towers, we become more aware of our mortality. The ocean was here before us and, as the drama goes, will be here after us. However, instead of realizing this terror, many feel full of peace while gazing into the vast blue sea. Some pay to live near it, others travel many miles to dance upon foreign waters’ wake. Why the attraction to such a beast? Perhaps, when around something so great, we who are so small begin to feel that there is a greater significance to life. Perhaps we feel that life itself is greater than our daily struggles. It is not us but the struggles that are insignificant.
Written By: Gideon Zielinski