Homily to the Endless Expanse
In which I deliver a short homily describing the humbling perspective with which we should approach learning in our lifetimes.
“While the shape of the curve seems to hold true for my career, I realize I’m much further down on a larger curve, over time it the scale that has changed. I hope that when I die, I’ll be down here, at the base of an exceedingly large curve.”
– Jan Chipchase in ‘A Year of Reflection’
“In these moments, we have a sense of immensity of the world. Ego is impossible, because we realize, if only fleetingly, what Emerson meant when he said that ‘Every man is a quotation of all of his ancestors.’ They are part of us, and we part of a tradition. Embrace the power of this position and learn from it. It is an exhilarating feeling to grasp this, like the one that Muir felt in Alaska. Yes, we are small. We are also a piece of this great universe and a process.”
– Ryan Holiday in ‘Ego is the Enemy’
Let us make peace with wandering and learning for the rest of our lives.
Let us rid ourselves from the myth that there is some end that we might be able to reach. Understand that any end is only a reflection of our own limited viewpoint; we can only find an end when we choose to avert our eyes from the vastness of the world, and tell ourselves that this one little spotlight is all that there is.
Let us find ourselves constantly humbled by the immense complexity of the world that we will never grasp in our lifetimes. This humility will guide us to be curious, to never give in to the illusion that we know something for certain, and to constantly want to learn more. Find comfort in that unwavering uncertainty that allows us to be open to the possibility that what we believe we know now may not be all that there is.
Let us recognize that our lives should be this enormous learning curve that expands at a quicker pace than we can advance down it. Welcome the fact that our viewpoint only grows broader and our ignorance larger as we learn more and more. Thus, we should aspire, like Jan, to constantly remain at the bottom of that curve.
Let us appreciate that there is as much complexity in the micro as there is in the macro. See that observing a single person or a single detail is as rich and deep as the wide and sweeping views from 30,000 feet up, like the fractals that form our physical world. Switch between these two views as you wander the world.
Let us adopt this perspective from which we should explore and wander the world. From underneath the immense vastness and complexity of the cosmos. From the place in time when billions of years of history have preceded us, and will follows us. From a position where we feel remarkably small, remarkably ignorant, remarkably insignificant.
Let us wander.