Focus on the smaller things

I’m a big thinker. I like to put my mind to work pondering the big questions like the purpose of existence, how artificial intelligence will affect the future of humanity, and what is consciousness.  There are plenty of other big questions as well that relate to world politics, alien life and so on. They all seem to fascinate me.


The problem with big topics is that they don’t solve a whole lot for a person like me. Even if they are fun to think about. It’s not as if I need to be responsible for any of these things and most of them I will never find solutions to. They are simply too far out there. For example, does our universe exist as just one of many in a multiverse? I don’t know. I will probably never know. So the question becomes, should I really waste my time?

Granted, even if I tried to stop, could I really? Am I just wired this way? Probably to some degree. Do I need to stop completely or should I stop completely? Probably not. I’m sure some of this is healthy. Plus I’ve always generally believed that people who don’t ask these questions really should. More like, how can they not? But truthfully, those people may live more meaningful lives than me because they are focused on their life and not on things that really have no bearing on it in any practical sense.

This all occurred to me last night as I was comparing the size of countries with one another. Those images that show maps of countries overlaid on top of each other to compare their geographical landmass. I’m certainly not a geography whizkid and was surprised to discover that Australia is nearly as large as the continental United States, and Brazil a little bigger. All at once I was hit with the revelation that I know very little about both of these countries. It gave me a sense of scale I hadn’t considered.

I’ve always known how big the world is, it was the lack of knowledge about these countries that really hit me. The fact that I will ponder big ideas like the existence of God and our robotic future, but I know next to nothing about two countries the size of my own. That struct me as kind of stupid on my part.
I mean, how am I supposed to come up with opinions on these much larger issues about the cosmos while knowing so little about the details of the planet I live on? There is an entire world of things here to discover and think about. Things that I can reach out and touch and deal with.

Beyond that, it struck me that most of these things on Earth are still too large in scale to really affect me personally. Sure I can go to Brazil and travel around or even live there, but will I? No, honestly I probably won’t. I’m not big on traveling to begin with and there are many other places I would chose first. Plus I’ll never get to everything even if I tried. There is just too much here in front of me and most of that doesn’t apply to me.

There are billions of lives on this planet. Billions of stories. Millions of events. Only a tiny fraction of which I will have any involvement with. The same is generally true even of the most powerful and influential people on the planet, of which I am far from being. So what the hell am I stressing out about? Why do I feel compelled to even have an opinion on world issues that will not affect my life? Let alone large universe scale issues I can do nothing about and will never know for sure about. It seems I spend too much time on things that just don’t matter. Things that are really nothing more than mental masturbation, even world events I’ll never have any real sway over. That energy could be better spent, I don’t know, figuring out how to open my own pub or something. Maybe making another feature film. Something realistic that I could actually make happen and will actually have some influence on my life. Something hard enough to do on its own, but at least possible.

I think it’s time to put the big ideas away before they take more of my precious time away from me. They are fun to think about from time to time, but when they become too time consuming, you really have to step back and say “I don’t think this is working for me.”

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