Hope for a Dot

The world is completely insane. We live in a civilization of highly ordered chaos. All of it. The chaos just happens sporadically enough that we are fooled into thinking it’s supposed to make sense. But maybe it’s not.

There’s not much in the way of logic that points us to the conclusion that our existence affects anything outside of our little planet. Let alone that we are due some sort of inherent, cosmic justice. Why would we be when we just made the rules up? Our parameters are human constructs, yet we assume the air agrees to play by our rules. When in fact we’re just incredibly lucky that we get to play by its.

I said our planet is little. But that’s really a pretty generous adjective, considering we are very literally a small dot even in just the fraction of what’s out there that we’ve been able to photograph. Think I’m exaggerating? I thought so too, until I saw this picture a few years back. Taken by the Voyager 1 Spacecraft as it exited our solar system, 4 billion miles from Earth. (Earth is the dot by the arrow. Seriously.)

Still torn if you should update your profile picture again this month?

Our planet is tiny. But it has a huge ego. It’s like a freckle on someone’s face feeling important, amidst a stadium packed with people, in a densely populated country, with tons of big corporations and powerful brands dominating the attention of the planet, diverting the focus you deserve for being a dot on someone’s face. And despite the obvious absurdity of that idea, it actually happened on our planet. The dot was on the face of Cindy Crawford. And it became very famous and important.

At the same time mind you, the planet had no shortage of the myriad problems we still have today. Oppressive governments, world hunger, nothing good on TV, the usual. But that dot, in the middle of a stadium, in a packed country, on an egotistical planet, became a powerful, global brand and a big corporation itself. Someone’s face dot.

And you fast forward just twenty years, out of the 100 plus BILLION year history of this little Earth, and that little, unimportant mole became The Kardashians. And people far more interested in it than the evening news, or their own pesky little lives.

Now, I’m not trying to blame this all on Cindy Crawford. I actually always liked Cindy Crawford. For a time as a young boy, I even liked her A LOT. And hers wasn’t the first face dot we became obsessed with. We also became very enamored with Marilyn Monroe’s. And millions still are, more than 50 years after her death. Something about moles I guess. Maybe it’s that they are mysterious, round little dots, that sometimes expand into big, complicated things. Much like our planet did. (Or maybe it’s cuz they’re on the bodies of gorgeous women. I’m going first theory.)

More important than placing blame anyway, is that I don’t see this as any kind of problem. Although it may not seem like it, I’m not really criticizing this shallowness of ours at all. Our repeated decision as a species to place way too much value on insignificant things is actually a pretty smart move. Because it’s just as valid as any other, and in the grand scheme, it keeps us humble. Because placing such importance on the unimportant is a roundabout way to admit that we know, as a whole, that we aren’t that important. And because we’re not that efficient either, we display this knowledge in a roundabout way. This is good too, because if nothing we do really matters, then efficiency would be a pretty stupid goal. Makes more sense to let go and enjoy the ride.

And why not? It’s like catching a wave on a surfboard your first time out, thrust into an adrenaline rush that somehow you’re able to navigate, intuiting how to keep riding it, and realizing the absurdity and randomness and miniscule odds of it even being possible. And then doing a flip on the surfboard. Because you realize that while you’re riding it, you get to do whatever you want. Like Michael J. Fox in “Teen Wolf” doing a flip on the roof of the van, once he embraces that he’s a werewolf now. (Or a million other examples, I just like that movie. And any example is as good as any other.) So while surfing this wave that you were lucky enough to catch, you do a flip, or smile, or pee in the ocean, or watch someone else surfing better than you. Whatever you want. Simply because you can. And because no one knows how long the ride will last. And because the only thing you can know for sure, is that it feels good, and it’s incredibly fun.

What’s really amazing though is that all of this is taking place on a little dot. And we get to ride it through outer space.

Ben Gleib