I’ve been in need of comfort lately. The nights seem very long and are broken by hours of insomnia, during which I flop around the bed, sweating and fretting and reminding myself how shitty I’m going to feel at work the next day if I can’t get back to sleep. Last night is a case in point, because I woke at 12:30 and made an unsuccessful bid at reclaiming some of those lost hours, but had to throw in the towel at 4:00 and just get on with my day.
I’m like the rest of us, I assume, staring down the end of the world, trying to imagine how on earth these egomaniacs in charge of things are ever going to calm the fuck down and return to their corners and disentangle themselves and the rest of us from the almighty mess they have created. I worry about climate change and earthquakes, fires and tsunamis, the little dog’s spine and the husband’s job, about that asshole at work on Friday and how the gap on Tuesday’s schedule never got filled. I worry about my kids and whether they’re happy, whether they’re healthy, whether what I said to my daughter when she was nine has stuck in her mind and caused her any harm. I worry about the food in the fridge and why I always end up with extra zucchini—zucchini bread, zucchini noodles, zucchini roasted with red onion and pepper and tossed with a lemony orzo, but do I have a red pepper, do I have any orzo—about the fact that I’m out of moisturizer and will have to use body lotion on my face until I can get some more. This is the nature of worry; it’s a devolution from the profound to the ridiculous, leaving no concern unturned.
Sometimes it helps to switch on the TV at night and listen to a documentary I’ve played a hundred times before. One of my favorites is a Netflix special called A Trip to Infinity, which discusses, as you might imagine, the nature of infinity, the idea that you can always count one more. I find the scale of the universe an inexpressible comfort on nights like these. The idea of our smallness, of life’s infinite chances to flourish elsewhere, the finite lifespan even of our lonely blue planet, which will turn and turn and be warmed and cooled like the living body it is—all of this is liberating. Mind-opening. It takes the pressure off, just knowing that we can’t know, vivid though our imaginings might be. The truth is so vast and the universe so mysterious, so haunting and lovely, that even our most frightening realities here on Earth can’t dim its spectral light.
Of course our worries are still real. We aren’t operating at the scale of planks or planets, we’re people, who have zucchini in the fridge and war in the backyard. But for me it helps to place our lives in the cosmos and let some of that shit go for a while. Others would say, Give it to God. I would rephrase, though the sentiment is pretty close.
Dawn is coming. The day will bring whatever it does. And it will be okay.