Have you ever watched a storm? I mean like really watched it?
I was alone at home one day when the skies turned dark. It was 2 o’ clock in the afternoon and it got so dark it felt like dusk had come calling early. I sat typing at my computer, when I realised a really big storm was coming. The windows were banging against each other, a couple of things fell off my dressing table; the wind was so strong. It suddenly occurred to me that the birds must be scared. I had three pairs of finches and a couple of parakeets. They were in two cages in the verandah. So I went to them. The finches were all huddled together and the parakeets were screeching loudly. I sat down by them just to let them know that they weren’t alone at home. I looked up at the sky. Gosh, it was some storm. And then, I stared and stared. It was awe-inspiring. The sky just seemed so full — the clouds seemed to be getting bigger and more swollen by the second. As I watched, the dark sky grew darker still. The huge black clouds seemed to be everywhere and the way they seemed to be increasing in volume, swelling up from within, I was mesmerised at this common natural phenomenon. Thunderstorms, they are so common, we all enjoy them. Well, I for one, do. But I had never looked at it that way. Never before had I observed a thunderstorm so carefully. That storm changed something in me that day. It somehow made me look at things differently. I felt so overwhelmed. Like a little kid. As the sky lit up and the thunder crashed a couple of seconds later, I turned to the birds and tried to say soothing things to them to calm them down. And when I looked back at the sky, I realised I had never felt so alone. Maybe the birds were just an excuse. Maybe, I needed them more than they needed me. Suddenly, my humanly existence felt small, like a fleck on the horizon, in comparison to the unending, dark vastness that the sky was. I felt like I had no control over what was happening, over my life. But then, did anybody? Do any of us really have control over what exactly happens in our lives? Are our lives rigged too, like tinsel town award functions?
I felt vulnerable. I was feeling overpowered by nature and I thought, well, aren’t we all? Aren’t we all just small and negligible when it came to the bigger picture? But then, how often do we really look at the bigger picture? We are all just so full of ourselves, like the thunder clouds. Swollen up from within, thinking of ourselves all the time. It was my life, my friends, my family, my problems, my happiness —- my, my, my! It was “me” all the way! But was’t “I” supposed to be tiny and negligible in the grand scheme of nature? A minion? So, was “I” at all important then? Or is it that these small things are the ones that matter?
Did I actually matter? Maybe.
Maybe life is after all about the small and negligible. Isn’t this true of human connections? Small gestures, insignificant looking actions that mean more than words. That one moment, that one decision that changes a life. A small thing that someone says keeps a person going from one day to the next despite the struggle. One moment. Quite small when compared to the large number of moments we have in one day. But don’t we all have that one moment in our life which we wish to live again? So is that one moment really too small? Are we all, individually, irrelevant in this world? Do we only mean something when we are considered in our entirety as a human populace? Or is the world really a big picture made up of millions of smaller pixels. Now, I don’t know much about photography or picture technology but don’t they say the smaller the pixels the better the picture quality?
So, is small really large and insignificant significant?
As the sky lit up for the hundredth time, I picked up the birds and went inside.