Knowing Your Place

Something odd has happened since we moved into the new house; most things just no longer seem as pressing or as important as they used to. This was not exactly an overnight change when we moved here, it had started prior to that, but the reason for this has certainly come into focus for me since living here. The more expansive and devoid of people the space around you is, the less ability you have to place too much importance on yourself. In the grand scheme of things most stresses are just not that big of a deal.

When I was living and working completely surrounded by people, houses, buildings, technology, etc. it was all too easy to think to myself that we have it all figured out. Since moving here I see we don’t really have it figured out, we just do a pretty good job of faking it. We are living in an amazing time full of every medical miracle imaginable and creature comforts beyond the wildest imagination of people living even just a couple of generations ago. What we fool ourselves into thinking is that we can control this world. It is the mythology of knowledge.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a scientist with an advanced degree and I get the knowledge part. What we seem to have a hard time realizing these days though is the fact that all the safety, security, stability, and prosperity we are experiencing is like an illusion. We are lucky to be alive at the time we are. We are lottery winners in the game of life. If we had been born at pretty much any other time we would be living a pretty abysmal life compared to what we enjoy today. Not that people were miserable, they were actually really happy considering, but that is the point, we have it easy, take it for granted, and tend to be unappreciative, or at least I was. The really scary part is that not only are the comfortable circumstances we enjoy new but none of this is a stable state.

We see this all the time around us, ask a Puerto Rican how stable even their simple life was when the storm hit. Ask a Syrian what they think of the stability and relative prosperity they had for a time in their country. The list of these examples goes on and on and we as Americans are really no different although we like to think we are.

Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

What I have learned over time is that I am not in control. It does not matter how much prep work or research I do, I will always have to let go and trust that things will be alright. I can put myself in the best position possible but at the end of it I am not in control. This is true of all of us even if you don’t believe in God or spirituality or any of it. You can’t escape the fact that Mother Nature or just the evil that exists in the world can reach out and take away what you thought was the way things are.

It is alright though. It is not hopeless. What the passage from Isaiah tells us is that we can’t hope, with our tiny minds, to understand the grand scheme of things but it goes on to tell us that things will work out as intended. That might not always mean the best outcome for me or a script for my life as I would have written it but I am not the only player in this game and I have to play my part even if I don’t understand it fully. The bottom line is the view shown at the top of this post. This is the view from my front porch at sunset. If you can look out over that landscape and think you are important enough that everything should work out for you exactly as you wish you are missing the big picture. I know I was missing it for a long time and when I look back on myself at that time it makes me sad to think of how lost I was. I have changed my home but more importantly I have changed my perspective. That new perspective is making all the difference.

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