Do not let anyone tell you that you do not matter. I don't mean this in a patronizing way and I am not trying to give you a pep talk. I am just stating a fact. You matter. Your existence in the universe is incredibly important. The universe depends on you for its own identity, its very composition.
We tend to remove ourselves from the vastness of our environment. What can we be when compared to the quasars, the massive intergalactic light houses on the edge of the black, black ocean we call the universe? If stars were judgmental, what kind of assessment would they make of us? Tiny little pebbles of carbon, jitterbugging on a ball of mud that orbits an unimpressive sun in an unremarkable galaxy.
We must meditate here on gravity. A trusted way to explain the phenomenon of gravitational influence is to imagine space as a sheet held tightly at the corners. Ever hear of someone refer to the fabric of space-time? This is what they're talking about. If you place a pea on that sheet, it's not going to make much of a difference (unless you're significantly smaller than the pea, and very close, in which case it would make an incredible difference). Drop a bowling ball on the sheet, and you can see the fabric bend, and anything lighter rolls toward the bowling ball.
If you were to disappear, to be removed from the universe entirely, if the constituent elements that result in the phenomena your mother called Isaac, or Bobby Anne, or Takahiro, if we were somehow able to banish you into the aether, then the universe would from that moment on be a wholly different place. Your gravity, your own subtle influence on the universe, would be lost. The whole of existence would shudder. To think that if we removed you, you specifically, Bobby Anne, the entire universe would snap to attention at the loss. However small and seemingly insignificant your gravity might be, you would be missed. The quasars would know, and mourn with a modest bounce on the tight sheet of space time. Removing you upsets a seemingly uncaring universe.
I feel sometimes that if I were never to have existed, the world wouldn't even notice. We must all feel like this every now and then. The days when no one calls, the slow, quiet and empty days between being in love, the days when no one makes eye contact and there is a general nausea about our own place in society. But if you weren't here, if the matter you are composed of had never existed, then we can reasonably fathom that the universe would have ended up entirely differently.
Think about the great constants in physics: the speed of light in a vacuum, the mass of an electron, and the relative attraction of massive bodies (to name only a few). They're all arbitrary. The speed of light is a good example. It is 299,792,458 miles per second. Why? Why isn't the speed of light thirty miles an hour? Why does it stop where it does? Why is there a seemingly preset limit on how fast a photon can move, or the gravitational field of a given massive body? Much of theoretical physics focuses on the idea that there must be a single unifying theory, something that brings all the rules and laws of our physical reality together, the presents us with a clear link between all of them. This would of course explain why light travels as fast as it does, and to a lesser extent why you weigh as much as you do, or why water boils at two-hundred-twelve degrees Fahrenheit.
There is only a limited amount of matter and energy in the universe. There is a great deal, of course, but there is only so much. If there is indeed a 'theory of everything' (and many very well educated and extremely brilliant physicists think so) then surely the finite amount of matter and energy in the universe has as much to do with the "predefined" speed of light as the weight of an electron has to do with the Planck constant. This is why I feel comfortable saying, with a good amount of confidence, that if the matter that makes you you was never to have existed, then the speed of light would be different. The gravitational hold that the earth has on the moon would be different. Every universal principal would have to compensate for your absence.
Many physicists also believe that if the physical constants of the universe were even slightly different, the existence of life would not even be possible. Without you, Bobby Anne, you can plausibly state that no one else would exist.
But of course you're made up of more than carbon and hydrogen and oxygen and iron and junk. You think. You have experiences. You condone and forbid and fornicate and create art. You're life itself. You've got the spark.
I want to try to get rid of that notion quickly. There is no such thing as a "life force." It's as quantifiable and real as pixie dust or hellfire. Forget it. You are made of the same thing as a greyhound, both the dog and the bus. You are only different from a chunk of led because of the arrangement of your atoms. Ninety-some building blocks and four forces holding them together, more or less. That's all you really are. Your thoughts, your memories, you're guilt and love, they're all products of a squishy lump of tissue made mostly of water, zapping signals across the tiny gaps between microscopic brain cells. Electricity, carbon, some water. That's what makes up your dream of becoming a professional wrestler or your beliefs about God. It sounds so dour, doesn't it? Not for a second. Through you, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and many other atoms, all lifeless in and of themselves, experience their place in the universe. You allow sodium to taste itself and sulfur to smell itself. You, in your holistic composition, with all the parts working in amazing harmony, are the vessel by which a bundle of cosmic dust has fallen in love. And you're not important or significant or beautiful? I disagree. You are as important as the supernova that birthed you, as significant as the black hole that powers a galaxy, as beautiful as anything we've ever seen through a telescope. As beautiful and more.
Listening to: The Doors
Reading: Eudora Welty