The world itself is a huge temple of all the gods – Seneca

DSCN0712Have you ever looked up at the sky at night? Or better yet early in the morning? I’m talking about 4 a.m. when most everyone else is asleep. When you can almost pretend you’re the only person around.

Did it make you stop? Did it make you wonder? Did it make you feel small?

People like to think that because of all of the technological advances that the world has shrunk. And it probably has. At no time in history has it been so easy, hell even possible, to connect with so many people.

But we also know how insignificantly small the Earth is in the grand scheme of things. And that’s just in the parts of the Universe that we know. I’m thinking we can all admit that what the human race knows is a drop in the ocean compared to what we don’t know.

But see, I’m coming to understand that not all of us can admit that we are not the top of the food chain. Because if we could we would not behave the way we do. We would not walk around with this attitude of entitlement. We would not mistreat people the way we do.

Our lives are a blink in time. Our lives are so infinitesimally small. Our lives are a gift. Every day that we walk on this planet to think, see, and feel is a gift.

I’m not saying these things to bring anyone down. It’s quite the opposite. I’m saying these things to remind myself to be grateful. To remind myself to look up and out. To remind myself to appreciate each and every moment.

Even the ones that aren’t so wonderful…

Because even those moments have helped me become who I am. They have led me to where I am now and will continue to lead me to where I’m going. They help me appreciate the truly wonderful moments.

I didn’t always feel this way. There were years when anger, frustration, and depression threatened to consume me and my life like a black hole. To say I struggled mightily would be a gross understatement.

I’m sure there are plenty of other people who know what I’m talking about…

I couldn’t appreciate a clear, star-studded sky. I couldn’t appreciate a warm, summer day. I couldn’t appreciate the people in my life that wanted to help me, but couldn’t because I wouldn’t let them.

Through all of this I still went to work. I still continued my education. I still tried to figure out how to let my past go.

It was while I was taking classes for my Master’s degree that I finally looked up. I finally saw the beauty, the awesomeness, the enormity of the early morning sky.

I would get up at 4 a.m. almost every day so I could do homework before I had to go to work. Yes, I worked full-time and finished my Master’s degree in 14 months. It is possible. If you’re struggling now, I’m here to tell you, you can do it. It will be worth the sacrifice.

I have two dogs who I always fed and took out before I did anything else. It’s still that way, but everything starts a few hours later now. I’m not going to lie, there were days that I swore at my dogs and I grumbled and moaned and basically wasted the first 30 minutes of every day.

I’m not sure exactly when I looked up. All I remember is that it was a chilly morning, probably in the Spring. I’m sure I was yelling at the dogs to hurry, but when I looked up everything stopped. I took a deep breath and felt so small. I saw everything.

I saw my past. I saw my present. I saw my future if I didn’t change my course.

Don’t get me wrong. There wasn’t really anything wrong with my life at that point. If things continued the way they had been I’m sure I would have been fine. But, then again, maybe not.

I still didn’t appreciate everything I had. I bitched and moaned and took things for granted. Until that day. Until I looked up. Until I began to realize that my life and everything I do is so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

In other words, the world did not, and does not, revolve around me…

It was like a weight had been lifted – a weight I didn’t even know I had. I thought I had dealt with my past. Forgiven who I needed to forgive. And I had, but I still wasn’t getting the point. I still wasn’t seeing the forest for the trees.

And let me tell you, it was a relief. I no longer had to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. It wasn’t my job or responsibility to fix anything or anyone else. I didn’t have to control anything except me.

Nature taught me that. It taught me to appreciate my little corner and everything I have. It taught me that worry is pointless. It taught me that it doesn’t matter how long I live I can never know everything. And, more importantly, that all of that was okay.

So now I make it a point to stop, observe, and appreciate something new every day, whether it’s a new bird that visits my bird feeder or a plant that’s finally broken through the ground for the season. It makes me so filled with wonder to know that there are so many things out there that I don’t know because it means I have the opportunity to learn something new every day.

How awesome is that?

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