I picked up Annie Dillard’s, For the Time Being, off my bookshelf this morning. It is time for a reread of this book. I was flipping through it rereading sections and parts I had underlined when I read it several years ago. I stumbled across a section that made me think, especially during this time of year when we are supposed to be spending time with our loved ones and reflecting on the year that is about to pass and the new one about to descend. “Anyone’s close world of family and friends comprises a group smaller than almost all sampling errors, smaller than almost all rounding errors, an invisible group at whose loss the world will not blink.”
We are capable of being the center of someone’s universe and being completely inconsequential, all at once. We are truly not as important as we like to think. The world does not revolve around us anymore than it pauses to acknowledge our mere existence. This has the potential to be utterly devastating, but it also has the potential to be profoundly liberating. We have the freedom to make mistakes, big mistakes, and everything will still be okay. We get to live a life that is as big and bold as we like, knowing that…everything will continue to chug along.
I also read this sentence as a reminder that we must huddle together in our invisible groups, protecting each other from the world that will not blink at our presence or disappearance. We must create importance and meaning within our little groups. We must generate courage and hope to keep trudging along on our paths through this simplistically complicated life. The world will not stop for us so we must stop for one another. We must acknowledge our successes and failures so that the act of getting through a day, a week, a month, a year does not disappear into the great chasm of life. There is the butterfly effect after all.