Joy of Simple Things

Everything came from somewhere, and is going somewhere else. From people and machines to owls and bananas, everything that that exists is suspended in a complex web of context. This is an obvious statement, but like many obvious things it often goes unexamined. Considering the context of everything around can be a source of great joy for the right kind of person. At the very least, it can keep everyday life from being boring.

Throughout the centuries a lot of effort has been spent to determine the grand origin of all things. In all the great explanations of theologians and theoretical physicists, the ordinary things are still overlooked. It is easy to say God created everything, but that is sort of boring. It is easy to say all that exists is made from “star stuff”, and that may even invoke feelings of awe, but that explanation is also kind of boring. I fear any attempt to explain everything, any determination of the origin of all, will end up ringing hollow.

Bell Ringing

“Yeah, but it sounds nice, doesn’t it?”

Of course, grand explanations have their place, but maybe the best way to go about our everyday lives is to think about the context of everyday things.

There is an ant crawling across my table. I have three options on what to think about said ant. One, I could just ignore it. It is always an option to ignore things, just not always a very good one.

Warning sign

You can probably just ignore this sign.

Two, I could consider this ant as a representative of all ants. Generalizations, though, can quickly spiral out of control. If this one ant can stand in for all ants, then can ants stand in for insects in general? Can insects serve as a stand in for life? What can we know about this ant that applies to everything? Ignoring things might be boring, but generalizing can get overwhelming. Would you rather be bored, or overwhelmed?

Option three is to think about this one specific ant. Not ants, or life, or the universe in general, but one specific little ant. Maybe it was created by God, and it was indeed made from matter that has existed since the beginning of time, but these things don’t matter to the individual ant. It is crazy to be concerned with the ant in the cosmic sense, but it’s fun to wonder about the context of the ant in the mundane sense. Where did this on specific ant come from? Where is its colony? How long has it been crawling along? Does it get tired? Where is it going?

I will never run out of questions about this one, specific ant crawling across my table. They are not important questions, by any means. They are questions that won’t overwhelm me, but they aren’t boring, either. As long as I’m not overwhelmed or bored, then I am happy. I guess.

Stylite Monk

This looks boring and overwhelming.

Mundane things are amazing, when you think about their specific context and refrain from generalizations. The ant crawling across my table is endlessly interesting. The table itself is interesting, too. It was built somewhere. Before that, someone had to design it. Is that a fun job, designing tables? How much does a table designer get paid? Can table designers also design chairs, or do the tyrants at the furniture factory pigeonhole them?

If you don’t want to be bothered, then just ignore everything. If you don’t want to be bored, then think about everything. If you don’t want to be bored or bothered, then find some small, insignificant thing to wonder about.

If you don’t have a table, then think about a chair. And if you don’t have ants in your house, then tell me how you got rid of them.

Ant on Finger

Ants: The Secret Lords of Creation