Perspective... How Big and Small a Million Is

Million Dots on One Sheet PDF
Million Dots on One Sheet PDF

Q: How do YOU keep things in perspective? One way is to consider how much a million really is...

My brother, Ben, the engineer of very large brain, sent me the downloadable Million Dots PDF to the right saying,

The attached has one million dots on one page. Zoom in and out to feel the enormity of such a “small” quantity as a million of something. You’d need more than 100,000 of these dot sets (100,000 times 1,000,000) to represent all the stars in the Milky Way. Then if you want stars in the observable universe you’d need 3,000,000,000,000 times that (or 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars). Now we’re talking “pretty big” quantities . . . now try to figure out how many atoms are in the observable universe . . . that would be “huge”, estimated at 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Yeah, a million seems small . . . unless it is a million bucks."

This reminded me of a old Buddhist mediation I teach my clients and workshop participants as part of mindfulness training, self-mastery and stress management. It's called, "meditating upon a leaf until you can see the universe," which I'll have to describe in depth another time. For now, suffice it to say that it's about calmly studying a leaf and narrowing your awareness to notice all of the vast micro details of the leaf, which of course, it's impossible to notice all of the details as they continue on and on and on microscopically. However, studying the details, the veining that gets smaller and more intricate is more than enough to boggle my mind. Then the practice is to expand your awareness to fill  your mind full of all the interconnectedness of everything in the universe (soil, water, wind, sun, nutrients, proximity of the Earth to the Sun and on and on and on) that directly and indirectly conspire together to allow the existence of just one single leaf. As one fills their mind full of all that IS around one single leaf it is astonishing how the worries of the day are pushed out of the mind and/or are quickly put into perspective.

Perspective matters a great deal in relationships as too often we "sweat the small stuff." As we learn to focus on what truly matters and to let go of what doesn't matter in relationships we tend to find greater peace, enjoyment and harmony in them. As one of my elderly clients told me once,

Jonathan, my mother used to tell me, 'Son, everything in this life matters... just not very much.' That has helped me keep things in proper perspective throughout my life."

Q: So, how do YOU keep things in perspective? Share with us below...