Keep Two Thoughts

Personal essays

Ours - Essay from Newsletter 39

Learning it’s not mine


Counting today, there are ten more days in 2020.

But that’s because that many of us have imposed a calendar on a world that marks time with or without us.

January first is as artificial a marker as is the Rose Bowl.

Growing up, the new year’s tradition was to watch the Tournament of Roses parade in the morning with my mother and the Rose Bowl game with my father in the afternoon.

Those were the days of Woody and Bo where Ohio State or Michigan seemed to always represent the Big 10 in Pasadena against USC, Stanford, UCLA, Washington - whoever won the Pac 8.

But the Pac 8 isn’t the Pac 8 anymore, the Big 10 has way more than ten teams, this year there is no parade, and the game will be played in Texas between Alabama and Notre Dame - neither of which is from the Pac 10 or the Big 10.

These things that we create - a game, a stadium, a calendar - these are things we create that the earth we live on cares nothing about.

The Dark

We are built to view things from our perspective.

It took centuries to accept that we weren’t in the center of the universe.

And yet.

And yet we talk about the confluence of Jupiter and Saturn because they are so close to each other in the night sky.

They are so close, that when we look up and spot them,  we can reach out and hold them both in a single hand.

And yet.

And yet they are nearly half a billion miles apart from each other.

Where by “nearly” I mean they are 456 million miles apart which is 44 million miles away from half a billion.

So, nearly.

Half a billion miles apart and yet we consider this a confluence.

We remain in the center of our universe.

The Light

Little things happen around us that let us know, “it’s ok.”

We notice the days getting longer and we feel hope.

It gives us hope this time of year.

It tells us, it’s ok.

We may not even notice. But something feels different.

Something says, it’s ok.

It doesn’t matter whether we notice or not.

We’re not really involved in any way.

Without any help from us, minutes of daylight are added each day.

At least here in the northern hemisphere.

I do try to notice when I do it, but it’s so hard not to put myself in the center of the universe.

It’s the seat I have to this show.

Stepping back

It’s like having a nice vantage point along the parade route and waking up on the first to realize the parade’s been cancelled this year.

Or like having connections in Pasadena that get you into the Rose Bowl each year for the game - but this year the game has moved and the stands are empty.

We need to see the world from others’ perspectives or we will miss the show when the game leaves town.

This time of year is about giving. Giving to others to fulfill their needs not ours. 

To delight them whether we are there to see it or not.

I hope that after four bleak years of leaders all over the world teaching people to shout “mine”, we can return to a world where we smile and let the other person go first, nod, and think “ours”.

When you look up in the night sky looking to see Jupiter and Saturn, or glance at the earth’s moon on any other night, you can feel the wonder of how small and insignificant we are.

We couldn’t possibly be the center.

At the same time you feel an extraordinary connection to everyone else.

At first you think of others looking at the same moon.

And then you think of those inside working, sleeping, watching television.

All become one. Whether they are looking at the same sky or not.

Merry Christmas.

Yeah. I said it. Even though I don’t celebrate it.

That’s how we get to “ours”.

Essay from Dim Sum Thinking Newsletter 39. Read the rest of the Newsletter or subscribe

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