If you are reading this article, there is a strong possibility that you’ve experienced one of those, what I sometimes refer to as “white noise moments.” So, you’ve just read a disheartening article or saw a news blip come across your social media, detailing a ridiculous policy proposal or heard a remark by someone in leadership that was so awful that it left you in shock and feeling powerless. Suddenly it’s as if a “white noise,” which in scientific terms is described as sound containing many different frequencies of equal intensity, washes over my brain and ability to process the information coming through my senses. Well, I didn’t like that feeling, nor in general being apathetic to what was happening in the world and I wanted to understand more about it and how I could prevent it. Just like many of you teachers, coaches, parents, good neighbors, church members, activists, entertainers with a “voice’ etc. reading this, I have remained active because I believe we should use this life to do something good, but there were times I was emotionally disconnected from whatever I was doing at the time and by then I had reached a point in my life in which I wished to always be “present.” To be living each moment authentically.
We’ll after one such “white noise” meltdown, I decided to just go outside, watch the sunset and quiet my mind. After beholding our massive sun, whose diameter is 864,938 miles across, reach a horizon, which is nothing more than an illusion, at a relative speed of 43,000 miles per hour, I had but one thought, “What an amazing universe this is we live in.” I know it sounds cliche, I do, but for whatever reason that thought hit me in a way that I had never felt before. That’s the thing; You see, we’ve all heard and said things over and over again. We even know some things, but there is a big difference between knowledge and applied knowledge. There is a difference between knowing something and living something. I didn’t consciously articulate it this way, in that moment but the illusion of reality that we are constantly bombarded with by all kinds of media, would never again, for me, be anything other than an illusion. This universe that we all share is not and will never be defined by the hatred and sickness of a few. I say few with the knowledge that there are over 7 1/2 billion people in this world and each of us, every day are helping to create through our actions, inactions, decisions and thoughts our shared experiences/experience.
One of my favorite 18th century writers, Frederick Schiller, in an essay entitled “On the Aesthetical Estimation of Magnitudes,” recounts a similar experience as the one I spoke about above. He describes a depressed man, outside, looking at the nighttime sky and thinking about how insignificant he is as compared with the vast infinity of stars. He ponders this thought for a while. He asks himself “Have I ever actually seen with my own eyes this infinity of stars?” He reasons that he had not because it is only possible to capture with one’s eyes so much of the sky at any given time and that we never actually see an infinity of stars. That’s impossible. He then asks himself “Where does this idea of infinity come from?” After considering this question for some time, he concludes that it is our minds that create the concept of infinity by unifying in the imagination individual snapshots of the sky, so to speak, and synthesizing those images into a single, unified whole. Then it hits him. As he looked up again at the stars, he did not feel his “smallness” relative to an infinity of stars in an endless sky hat surrounded him. Ironically, he felt his smallness relative to the concept of infinity that he had imposed upon them.
He was not vanquished by the world he experienced around him. He was vanquished by the power and beauty of his own mind.
For me, that is about as accurate a picture of reality as it gets. We must never allow anyone to create for us an illusion of reality. True reality is in the unseen principles that govern this universe. Unseen principles like the universal gravitation that keep the stars, including the sun on their trajectory maintaining conditions for life to flourish on our planet. True reality is in principles like love which also maintains conditions for life to flourish and is reflected in something as seemingly insignificant as the innocent smile of a stranger passing by…”…and I think to myself, “What a wonderful world.” 😉
Ardena Joy Clark is an American activist, writer, award winning recording artist, former elected official and author of “The Art of Choosing Joy; A Script in the Making of My Life”.