In a world where our civilization is so large it’s difficult to see the significance of our contribution, why contribute at all? We’ve created something so large, and our stories have become so small. We are constantly reminded of the absurd grandeur of our reality with news from around the globe, statistics analyzing millions of people and massive amount of data, skyscrapers getting larger and larger, malls and stadiums filled with thousands of people, if you are held in the grasp of the age of information there is no escaping the miniscularity of your story. Things are so big you might be left asking how can we understand the significance of our story? How can we bring meaning and joy into our lives?
I can see two ways of going about it. You can either embrace the complexity or deny it, both may yield satisfying results. Embracing the complexity means moulding yourself into an equally complex component as the system you inhabit. This takes time and effort and a lot of reflection (I highly recommend writing often about your situation). It takes a lot of effort to see the significance of your contribution to the hustle and bustle of our civilization, but it is certainly possible. By willingly plunging yourself into the rabbit hole you may very well find what’s at the bottom. Take a construction worker for example, if she was going to understand the significance of her contribution to a skyscraper, she would have to understand that the few beams and windows that she helped put on were significant, that those windows made a difference only because she and everyone else on the team thought it was worth it. She was part of a team of people working to put the world in order in a very real way, and without her and everyone on the team, it wouldn’t be possible. Adding meaning to her story might mean understanding how those beams and windows are created and meeting the people who transport those materials, it might mean getting to know the people around her, bonding with them, and enjoying their company. Understanding every aspect of the system which she encompasses is a complex but rewarding task, the only way to comprehend the whole, or in other words, the only way to understand your contribution and your story is by understanding the minute details of the system you inhabit. If you don’t do this, you are stuck in a mysterious unknown realm with no hope of understanding your contribution, with no hope of understanding your story.
The second way of understanding the significance of your story is to deny the complexity. This is a step backwards, and yet possibly a massive leap forwards in terms of health and wellness in your life. Denying the complexity would mean disconnecting from the massive civilization which we have created. It would mean disconnecting from the news, from all the things in the universe that are mysterious, it would mean stepping into your realm of competency and forging your own story. It would mean understanding the things which you want to understand as they come at you. This would mean freedom from the pressures of the complexity of civilization because you simply would not be exposed to them. This option may seem daunting for those already encapsulated by society, but over time you would simply forget those pressures and you could enjoy a simpler existence which is possibly more suited to human beings. Take this same construction worker for example, she may be feeling trapped in her job because of the seeming chaotic meaninglessness of her existence, not knowing why or what she is contributing, and instead of confronting the chaos she stepped back and moved to a smaller community, worked for someone she already knew, withdrew from the news and mass information overload she experienced, and she worked less time on smaller jobs, maybe small houses in her community where people knew her and respected her contribution. She may be able to enjoy a peaceful and happy existence away from all the complexity.
There may also be a third option, one that I just realized as I was writing this. It may be possible to land yourself somewhere in between the simplicity and complexity. Finding a space where you can take on as much as you can reasonably bear and understand. Finding your place where you understand your contribution, people respect your work and support you, you are somewhere near the top of your craft (in it’s limited sphere) or at least you can understand how to work your way up, understanding where you land in the chaotic mess of existence may make things seem a little less chaotic and little more meaningful and fulfilling. What exactly do you want to contribute? How much do you want to understand? And how much are you actually willing to contribute? The third option is a matter of finding your place and absorbing yourself within it, not worrying or getting distracted by all the outside distraction that isn’t a part of your story. It’s about emersion and satisfaction in your story, and no one else’s. There are very few people, if any, who want or can hold up to a globalized society. The third option means not worrying about the globalized society because that isn’t about you, create your story, own it, and enjoy the ride.
Hustle it up!