The speck on a speck


I’ve heard it said that there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on all the beaches of this planet. And while we obviously can’t count either (trust me, I’ve done some very official Internet Research), I think that the point is that the universe is startlingly, overwhelmingly, mind-bogglingly gigantic – which makes me feel tiny. Smaller than tiny, actually. Indefinitely small. Infinitesimal.

In this knowledge, human beings shouldn’t matter; compared to the rest of creation, we should be negligible. There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea, and we’re the speck on a speck on a speck on a speck on a speck on the wart on the frog on the bump on the log therein. To make matters worse, just as the universe is constantly expanding into cold and infinite darkness, stars burning out into corpses along the way, we’re all racing toward death at a breakneck speed.

In case you’d forgotten, none of us are making it out of here alive. We are small, tenuous, and frail. It’s enough to make a girl despair – because does any of this, this world, this living, even matter?

Do I matter?

But then I remember that my nose can smell chocolate chip cookies, and my tongue can taste them. I think of the sky before a summer rainstorm, clouds the shade of polished steel, my eyes receptive to the hues. Sunlight hits the skin and warms it. On lucky nights, I can hear owls high in the trees of Jefferson Park, even if I can’t see them. We experience life in color. We encounter the world by way of our five senses, and we are constantly receiving through them. It didn’t have to be this way, but it is.

Doesn’t this feel generous?

And beyond what we see, taste, touch, hear, and smell, there’s even more. The rhinoceros is actually a thing. Photosynthesis works. Crack open a spaghetti squash and the flesh falls apart into tiny strands. If corn kernels are heated to the right temperature, they explode into soft, edible puffs. Whales sing. Words, invisible and intangible, have the power to heal or destroy. Yawns are contagious. Babies laugh; we all laugh. When we’re sad, tears fill our eyes.

This world is full of beauty and sorrow, and I don’t know which you’re experiencing today – but I’m combatting the numbness that often feels so easy. I am struck with the miracle of what it means to be alive, even on a so-called “normal” Monday. We may be small and our lives may be fleeting, but the gifts of this life are extravagant and lavish, and none of this is an accident.



  1. Val on February 24, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    Wow, Annie. Breathtaking.

  2. mom on February 24, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    Generous, indeed! Thanks for lifting me out of my numbness this morning!

  3. Debbie Barnett on February 24, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    And then there’s love. That unexplainable thing that uses all 7 senses. Yes, 7. Two are unexplainable.

  4. Robyn on February 24, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    This very much brought me to tears today.

    Thank you so much for your beautiful and insightful sentiments. What a gift indeed to feel both the weight and lightness of being human.

  5. Juliette on February 24, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    You have just de-mundaned another cold Monday. Thank you, AP. :)

  6. Greta on February 24, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    Oh this is so good. Such a boost. Thanks AP.

  7. Shelby on February 24, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    Beautiful as ever. Thank you lovely.

  8. Kelli on February 24, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    “I think of the sky before a summer rainstorm, clouds the shade of polished steel, my eyes receptive to the hues.”

    Reminds me of this one time on a mountain… :) xoxo

  9. Angie N (@angnik26) on February 24, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

  10. Leah Van Hoozer on February 24, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    May I be another to echo that this was a really good reminder. I do a good job of not appreciating the ebb-and-flow, minute details of life, and this really helped bring it into perspective.

  11. Sarah on February 24, 2014 at 6:46 PM

    “extravagant and lavish” I love that.

    And Debbie’s comment, too. I love love.

  12. Joey on February 24, 2014 at 8:53 PM


  13. Michelle on February 24, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    Such a good word Annie, and definitely something I needed to read today. Thank you for sharing this and putting into words what is very hard to articulate.

  14. Matt on February 26, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    Beautiful, Annie. And truth.

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