Saturday, June 4, 2005

Feeling Small?

From Annie Dillard's For The Time Being . . .

One-tenth of the land on earth is tundra. At any time it is raining on only 3 percent of the planet's surface. Lightning strikes the planet about one hundred times every second. For ever one of us living people, including every newborn at the moment it appears, there are roughly one thousand pounds of living termites. Our chickens outnumber us four to one.

One-fifth of us are Muslims. One-fifth of us live in China. Almost one-tenth of us live in range of an active or temporarily dormant volcano. More than 3 percent of us are mentally retarded. We humans love tea; we drink more than a billion cups a day. Among us we speak ten thousand languages.

A hundred million of us are children who live on the streets. A hundred twenty million live in countries where we were not born. Twenty-three million of us are refugees. Sixteen million of us live in Cairo. Twelve million fish for a living from small boats. Seven and a half million of us are Uygurs. One million of us crew on freezer trawlers. Two thousand of us a day commit suicide.

HEAD-SPINNING NUMBERS CAUSE MIND TO GO SLACK, the Hartford Courant says. But our minds must not go slack. How can we think straight if our minds go slack? We agree that we want to think straight.

Anyone's close world of family and friends comprises a group smaller than almost all sampling errors, smaller than almost all rounding errors, an invisible group at whose loss the world will not blink.

In the sampling error that is my world something significant is happening this week. Our youngest child, Jeremy, is graduating from high school. This is a time filled with celebration, a strong sense of accomplishment, relief, a little anxiety about the future, a fair amount of excitement about the adventure ahead and, well, lots of memories that are likely to stir a fair amount of emotion. Our little rounding error has grown up to be an outstanding young man - and not at all round, by the way.

For those of you who have children (or can remember this far back into your own childhood), do you remember the first day of school? This week I reflected on our oldest kid's first day as she headed off to school. (Okay, we took her and dropped her off but it was momentous, nonetheless.) It all came flooding back to me yesterday morning as Jeremy headed out the door for his last day of school. Our last child. His last day. Some twenty years have passed between that first day and the last one and a lot has happened in between.

I don't know about you, but it is this kind of thing that helps me to see the hand of God in my life. And by the way, speaking of which - thanks God!


:| raven |: said...

Among us we speak ten thousand languages.

wow .. that's incredible.

congratulations on your son's graduation. a truly momentous occasion. i remember kindergarten ... i also remember my son starting kindergarten ... and now my son's son is going to be a year old next week.

how does this happen? :)

Peter Milliron said...

I can't believe that anyone who listens to Slipknot or Evanescence could be a grandmother. That's incredible!