Four babies are born every second.
That’s 250 new lives entering our world, taking their first breath, fluttering their eyelashes for the first time, every single minute.
If you are good at math, you know that’s around 15,000 each hour and 360,000 new humans on our planet every single day.
And then, there’s you.
Those on this Earth who are currently alive represent about seven percent of the total population who have ever lived. This means that 93 percent of human lives have already occurred. They were born, fell in love, felt their heartbreak, and cried when no other emotion would do. They made terrible mistakes, saved someone’s life, inspired a generation, or touched no one at all.
Of all the people who have ever existed, we only have the chance to run into 7 percent of them—scattered around the world—speaking different languages and calling God different names.
And then, there’s you.
The word “planet” comes from the Greek word planetes, meaning “wanderer.”
One giant ball of water and life, so big and vast and all-encompassing. And we simply drift. 250 new lives each minute, and we all just wander. Plotting the same course. Watching the same constellations change with the seasons.
I feel like a planetes most days—I think a lot of us do.
Untethered and celestial.
Distinguished by the stars’ motion, we think it is our own.
Strikingly unaware of the world and the beauty that is constantly created on the surface of our own skin.
If you do not set your New Year’s intentions by doing this type of abstract research about humans and life and planets…then you have made the right choice. My problem is that I tend to feel small when making goals for myself, and it prevents me from even trying, so I find the research that backs up my feeling of smallness. This is called confirmation bias.
Yes, I could make that financial, physical, or self-improvement goal—but look at our world! Billions of people. Trillions of goals.
And then, there’s me.
And what is 10 minutes of meditation per day when monks do it for their whole lives?
And what is another marathon when I went to college with a woman who ran four in four consecutive days like a divine-made machine?
And what is another book, another thought written down, when 93 percent of humans who have ever lived are already dead and won’t be around to read it?
I am small, and this world is large, and my goals are inconsequential at best—silly at worst.
But then, there’s you.
Another human in this vast and wandering planet who is alive at the time I am. Who speaks the same language as me and has chosen to read what I write or texts me “Good morning” or “I’m sad” or cooks me food or lets me watch movies on their couch or sends me kind emails that say “I don’t know you, but I am grateful for your words. I am grateful for you.”
I read recently that the biggest gift humans offer to our planet is the gift of intentional gratitude. And while I am often overcome by the vastness of Earth and multitudes of lives and the unending cycle of death, rebirth, love, loss, struggle, I am choosing my New Year’s resolution a little differently this year.
Instead of feeling as if I am one in seven billion (and surely, I am), my focus now looks like this: billions of souls and countless stories and people choose to be part of my life and my story. And for that, I am overwhelmingly grateful.
Thank you. I love you. Happy New Year.