At a rate of 1 number per second, it takes 31 years, 251 days to count to one billion. Since there are 6.77 billion people alive today, it’d take about 214 years to count to that number.
At the end of the film Synecdoche, New York, the protagonist, theater director Caden Cotard, labors through his magnum opus. The play is held in an enormous warehouse where thousands of individual scenes unfold simultaneously, each unmindful of the drama next door. Toward the end of the film, Cotard utters the lines, “There are nearly thirteen million people in the world. None of those people is an extra. They’re all the leads of their own stories.”
I woke up this morning with a text message on my phone from my mom. She wrote that my brother’s best friend was killed in a car accident. He was 38 with a wife and 3 young children.
If you knew that today was your last day, how much of that time would you want to spend worrying about yourself—about how special and significant you are? How much energy would you devote to resentments, worrying about money, approval-seeking and other fears? How much time would you spend on Facebook, checking your email or in front of any screen?
If today were your last day, might you start thinking about the other people 6,776,999,999 other people out there? Might you get off your fears and anger? Might you start thinking more about giving than taking? Might you be willing to give up your lead role for a supporting one (or at least take direction)?
You are not that significant. You are one of billions. If you give a shit about one or more of those billions, show it. If your fears and anger are preventing you from showing it, get off them now. Your life, and the lives those around you, might end at any second. Unlikely things happen all the time.