The Piece of the World We Touch

Here's something I think about when I'm waiting in line. 

Like many of us, I don't love being in line. But I've been thinking about how I want to relate to things I don't like: cold weather, crummy news, lines at the grocery store. 

And what comes to me, again and again, is this:

The world is 197 million square miles. Which seems huge, not human scale. But each one of those miles is made up of yards, which are made up of feet, which are made up of inches.

The world is 4.54 billion years old. I can't even begin to wrap my mind around that. But each one of those years is made up of months, which are made up of weeks, which are made up of days, which are made up of moments. 

In other words, our world - while ancient and enormous - is made up of small, small pieces of time and space.  

Here in this line, waiting to buy my toothpaste and ketchup, this is the piece of the world that I touch right now.

So, what will I do with it?  

Let the mother and son behind me go ahead of me? Take some fuller breaths? Grin at the cashier who looks harried. Notice what's working: electricity, having money to buy ketchup and toothpaste, my legs holding me up. 

We get given this easy-to-miss responsibility to choose how we touch each piece of the world.

Sometimes, that responsibility is loud and clear: We're making a Big Decision that impacts Lots of People. Other times, though, it calls quietly to us. Be it in line, in traffic, in the garden - it's there, any place we find ourselves in. But each piece matters. 

Because all these pieces add up - mine, yours, the harried cashier's. And I have to believe that the more pieces that are touched with tenderness, the more our world inclines itself in that direction. 

So, I ask us both: What will we do with this piece of the world that we're touching right now? 

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Caitie Whelan