A billion tiny specks

by Jeb

We call it the beach, and the name itself hints at our condition. Singular. But what would anybody expect from a people intent on sorting, grouping, labeling and then dismissing? Our institutions teach us to gloss over - nay, to downright ignore our differences. Distinctions fall away and we’re neither extraordinary nor reprehensible. We’re just acceptable facsimiles of one another, rushed out the door and into the funnel.

“Dude!”

I woke with a start at the decidedly Californian exclamation. But my stiff back - a dependable consequence of belly-sleeping - kept me from moving much. Which was alright…fitting, in fact, as it left my right eye a few centimeters from the sand. The beach.

I couldn’t get it out of my head, this notion that once something reaches a certain magnitude, or more accurately, once that magnitude enters our awareness, we stop thinking about it with any real contrast. Sure, we know that the billion people in China are still people. Individuals. But we don’t think about them that way anymore.

We’ve stopped appreciating the individuality of our experience. And so news of a fatal traffic accident registers just long enough for us to calculate whether we need to consider an alternate route to work. A couple hundred thousand people perish in an earthquake and we think about the cost of relief and reconstruction.

There must have been a time when we cared. When we marveled at the details of each moment. Or even mourned them. As an infant on the beach sticks fistfuls of sand into his mouth just to experience it fully, so too must we, as a people, have once relished novelty. Celebrated differences. Looked forward to the enjoyment that can only come from committing to our experience and observing the minutia.

Every step as I amble to the low tide line impacts millions of grains of sand. And along the short path from millions to billions, our willingness to discern is lost. And with it goes one of the more important qualities of the human condition.

Humility.

Maybe this is too much to think about on a lazy day at the beach. Maybe I ought to rewind this journey and sleep the rest of the day away.

Nah…think I’ll build a sand castle instead.

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04/13/2010 at 11:31 pm

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Auntie Jo 04/14/2010 at 10:29 am

You ARE a thinker and a writer! Yay!!! Love, Geo.xoxo

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2 Jeb 04/14/2010 at 1:57 pm

Yes, Georgia, a dangerous combination in my case. :)

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3 Bamboo Forest - PunIntended 04/15/2010 at 8:17 pm

Good, thought provoking stuff. A poet, you are.
Bamboo Forest - PunIntended´s last blog ..7 Beautiful Ways to Tell a Girl You Like Her My ComLuv Profile

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4 Jeb 04/16/2010 at 5:38 pm

Thanks BF…or is it Yoda. :)

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5 Fabian | The Friendly Anarchist 04/16/2010 at 3:32 pm

I like it that you illustrate your point with a sandgrain and not a snowflake analogy! I personally love the tiny quirks of every person out there… Thanks for the post, Jeb!
Fabian | The Friendly Anarchist´s last blog ..Pirate Girl My ComLuv Profile

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6 Jeb 04/16/2010 at 5:40 pm

Sand seemed the most fitting given my environs Fabian. Were I still in CO, it may very well have been a snowflake. :) Thanks buddy…

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