I would like to talk to you about order.
There is little doubt by now that you have experienced the overwhelming sensation that you are rather insignificant. Breathe deeply. This is fine. There is no harm to be found in your insignificance. Even the works of our greatest tyrants and humanitarians will be blown away into The Forever™ with the cosmic equivalent of a sigh. That is quite alright. Have a cup of tea. I believe Yoga helps.
Your actual significance comes from a very strange place. A philosophy developed over the age of apehood, to be ignored right up until the point it slapped a lonely writer while making breakfast.
The Chaos of Toast.
When the universe was born – a Higgs-Boson erupting its contents – it was doomed to order. With the swirling of hydrogen vapors into stars, the fusion of atoms into elements and those first brave peptides that would eventually learn to swim, crawl, walk and fly, there has been an inestimable progression from one thing to the next. It is the curse of order within which we live: that everything revolves around the nexus of action and predicted reaction.
It is something so taken for granted that entire laws of physics may be built and maintained: apples encounter friction when falling through gravity and erosion spoils the view given enough time. The gulf between magic and knowledge is bridged through simple understanding. With enough time spent at study, even the most spectacular things may be broken down into their elementary parts.
From this information we are able to determine cause and effect. From cause and effect we are able to manipulate the world around us.
Unless, of course, you are making toast.
See, the universe colliding with itself in predictable ways is nothing short of true beauty. The laws of chemistry and physics ultimately combine in a paint-by-numbers guide to what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen.
But then there is you.
Oh little, gorgeous, conscious ape.
Somewhere in all that order, the chaos of consciousness was born. The creation of life was in itself an inevitability (if you ask the right kind of person), but the creation of life with a conscience was not. Point of fact, it was the birth of chaos itself.
Consciousness: the fifth state of matter. With it you are combining variables such as emotion, mood, upbringing… the list goes on, with each influencing the other in a factorial multiplication so complex, so chaotic, that one cannot help but see the sparks within your own head among all this order as miraculous.
The making of toast is not as simple as the falling of an apple. There is no given with the insertion of bread into the machine that toast will be made. You may forget about it, leave it to burn, leave it to go cold, receive a call from a loved-one with terrible news, have the lights trip out because Buddy Spence the municipal worker omitted to check fuse-box 12 on his rounds…
With the fallible, conscious ape, you have become the most significant mote of insignificance ever there was. Your every act is open to uncertainty. Your movements are not the predictable grinding of mountains or the slow rise of the sea. You and billions of others are the conscious avatars of unpredictable outcomes. Within that beautiful mind of yours – so heavily influenced by all these bizarre electrical states within only you – you have become unique.
So, the world may be one day blown into sand by the expansion of a neighboring star. You may step out into the road and watch a bird, the thought being your last before chaos takes you. The beautiful, sacred importance of your consciousness will be rendered trivial by the most ordered of events.
But that doesn’t change the fact that you existed. For one brief moment in the annuls of time you put a piece of toast in a magic little machine and despite the swirling order of all creation, the outcome was…