The Value of Smallness

When I was a kid our family used to vacation in Yellowstone National Park quite frequently.  It is a beautiful and wondrous place.  And one day, on a remote backwoods camping adventure I came to a very important conclusion.

I was small and insignificant.

I mean that in the most positive way you can imagine.  There I was in a small row boat, catching some trout and enjoying the day…..when I took a moment to look around and take a little inventory.  I’m surrounded by (easy to catch) trout, various types of fowl flying around and floating in the lake, and a handsome elk family on the bank across the way.  This is grizzly country so you always figure that there is more out there than meets the eye.  And then it hits me….

…of all the beasts here in the wild I am the least suited to survive in this environment.

AND…should me and my tiny row boat sink to the bottom of the cold mountain lake and perish the world would not even blink.

Sure, my family would miss me and so forth but every other part of the world and its population would not even know I was gone.  And that revelation….

…brought me great comfort.

What I mean by that is that we all dream of doing great things and being consequential.  And, of course, in many ways we are consequential to our family and friends.  Very much so.  But, in the broader scope of things…..not so much.

And how great is that?

There is a certain peace that comes with anonymity and smallness.  People who seek fame discover the value of anonymity once they have lost it.  And perhaps they fool themselves into thinking they are something other than still small.

But they aren’t.

And the sooner they figure it out the happier they will be.  But, of course, what do I know?

I’m small.

 

KenCatmull.com

6 Replies to “The Value of Smallness”

  1. WOW, you might have been just a kid, but you had the mind of an adult. Never went anywhere as a kid, except back and forth to Louisiana to visit family. I often dreamed of doing something special in my life, but just being is something special, so I don’t sweat the small stuff. In the beginning (in my teen years) I wanted to be a nun, then a legal secretary, then a beauty shop owner………and so forth, none of that happened, but just as satisfied as though I did do all that and in the scope of things, I’m still small!

  2. And that humility is the proper counter-balance to the realization, that although we are small, we are not at all unimportant. Otherwise moral choices would be easy.

    We are a part of something vast beyond our comprehension – and beautiful. Smallness in the discrete can be broken down to atoms, atoms to component parts, component parts to string theory and so on.

    One way to think of it, and it’s not novel, is that we’re a component part, to something quite great and encompassing. A spark to the plug, or less. A molecule helping the piston slide so the two-stroke engine can fire.

    Religion works toward this. Badly, often.

    The full of which should only be contemplated with “Eyes to the Wind” in the background, playing in your earphones.

    LOVED this entry. Eyes to the Wind, below.

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