The Population Clock, provided by the US Census Bureau. You must go there and watch the population clock go up for a bit to feel what I felt. Do it.
In the US: A human is born every 8 seconds (on average). A human dies every 12 seconds (on average). Worldwide, it looks like there’s a net gain of 3 humans every SECOND.
Naturally, it’s not like I was unaware that there are over 7 billion human beings on this planet. Nevertheless, a static number does not make one feel quite as insignificant as a dynamic rate seems to.
Just consider that. Somewhere on this planet, within every third of a second (at most, but taking deaths into account probably less), a woman is becoming a new or more of a mother, a man is becoming a new or more of a father, a family is welcoming a newcomer, someone is now a sister or a brother, a newborn is taking its first breath of the atmosphere with its own lungs.
In many cases, this third of a second where, statistically, an abstract number increases by 1, has been preceded by several hours of labor by the child-bearer, with several hours of stress and concern by her friends and family. It has been preceded by even more months of preparation and anticipation. It has been preceded by more emotion, expectations, worries, and hopes than I personally can even comprehend, never having gone through this myself. All of this then comes to a critical point, somewhere on this planet, for some family, for some woman, for some new human, every THIRD of a second, constantly, without a break, without stopping, AT ALL.
Honestly, I can not say exactly HOW that makes me feel. The knowledge that so much human emotional energy is constantly in flux around one very specific sort of event, being in this case childbirth, makes all of my petty concerns seem…
Then I remember that I am not even CONSIDERING the end of a life. I am not considering that while there may have been the net gain of 260,000 people in a 24 hour period, that the other 7 BILLION people (26923 times as many people; Note, assuming, illogically, a linear model, it would take 73 years of consistent net gains of the same rate as today to reach our current population) have their own emotional flux ongoing. 7 billion human beings breathing the same gaseous matrix of atmosphere as I am; walking on this same heterogeneous lump of matter as I am; consuming and defecating and laughing and kissing and making love and snorkeling and sleeping and putting on shoes and picking their nose… and who am I? Who are you? Whether you call yourself one or not or even know what the word means, I have never quite realized how solipsistic every microcosmic consciousness really is until just this moment.
I think that it’s about time we get some perspective on perspective.