Waves crashing on rocky shore.

Greater Than I

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

All that is good in nature respects its power. The crash of waves against rocky shores seems uncontrolled and even dangerous, yet I could sit peacefully at the water’s edge, calmed by this thunderous roar, for hours.

When I look upward into the umbrella of towering redwoods in our California forests, I reflect in awe on the enormity of their potential size – over 300 feet in height – and their possible lifespan – over 2000 years.

My entire existence is but a blip overshadowed by the long lives of these majestic towers. Indeed, finding my life on the timeline of eternity would be akin to spotting a needle head-on from outer space. 

As I move through day-to-day life on my tiny segment of that timeline, I am struck by my role as a background extra in countless lives. Every person I pass on the street carries a consciousness as complex as my own. For every struggle I have, there is struggle in another which for them is just as hard as what I am enduring.

There is an unofficial word for this realization, a neologism coined by the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows: sonder. 

There is comfort in knowing my place, a deep peace in humility. I am weaker than the sea, smaller than the trees, and one of over seven billion living souls.

There exist forces far greater than any of my circumstances or emotions, far greater than I am. And I can draw strength from these forces.