This Wide, Wondrous World

When I woke up today, I felt a strange sense of smallness. A sense of struggle. An internal battle to forge myself into something greater, wiser, better than who I am now. I know I have come a long way–I have accomplished things through luck and vicarious circumstance that I am extremely grateful for. In the grand scheme of things I have been a very fortunate individual: I had a wonderful childhood, loving parents, a great education, the means to study (and then live) abroad, and I’ve met the woman who completes me in a way no one ever has (or will) again–and I’m not even thirty.

But, when I take a moment, a real moment, to just sit back and look at the other people in the world, who have lived before me and in my own time… when I consider all the new people that will be born from here on out, and the things humanity has accomplished, what it will accomplish, it just blows my mind.

That smallness I felt?

All my life I was told I was smart- clever, intelligent. And so I grew up feeling like I was naturally inclined to knowledge and wisdom; to talent, in whatever my endeavor–I got lazy, and my world-view remained small. But today, it really hit me how much the world is really capable of.

When I think about all of the geniuses, all the amazing people in the world… all that these people in the arts, literature, sciences, music, humanities do, I feel small. But, it isn’t negative. It gives me hope for a higher platform, a higher purpose, a higher art, and I will keep climbing, keep growing, until my faculties no longer allow it.

I will read. I will explore, experiment, discuss, debate, and share. I will never settle for what I can do easily. I am small, in this wide, wondrous world, but I have the capacity to grow, and to shape its unfathomable complexities.

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” —Ray Bradbury


9 thoughts on “This Wide, Wondrous World

  1. I’m glad the sense of smallness you feel right now isn’t a negative emotion, because you are part of all those amazing people in the world whom you describe in your post. It’s great to push your limits and test the boundaries you’ve set for yourself. It’s admirable to have the courage to go beyond them. I look forward to seeing just how much you accomplish in the future.


  2. I agree with Miranda! It’s admirable for a person to be open to growth, to new experiences. How else do we learn but by doing, by exploring and by being open to knowledge? I have a great-uncle who in his eighties. Several years ago he started taking organ lessons. I admire him for his love of learning, his willingness to try something new and to be challenged. Awesome post, Alex, you have a great way of looking at things!


  3. I don’t have time for a real comment, right now, but I wanted to let you know I was here. If I get a chance, I will come back later with something real.


  4. Okay, here’s my still not quite real comment:
    It’s that sense of smallness, in part at least, that makes me want to write something that will last.


  5. After just returning from an incredible experience at the Burn, I struggle to find words to describe what took place. I was sitting in a Pyramid shaped led lit cage normally reserved for the Black Rock Rangers with my head resting on my chin. A young woman with a head of Shirley Temple black curls approached me and said “Are you real?” She thought I was an art piece. After sitting still for a few moments I spoke softly “I am waiting for my transformation”. She looked shocked that I spoke.

    Turns out she was a Comic writer and we started searching for words to describe what we were experiencing. I think her word was the best.: A Dream. We were experiencing a dream that you could be whatever you wanted, dress the way you wanted, dance the way you wanted. It was a dream.

    And a dream much larger than us. The entire experience enveloped us and as writers made us feel small. We were surrounded by incredible art, amazing expressions of emotion and forms of every description.

    I think any creative person would feel smallness in the presence of the Burn. If not, you might not be getting it.

    But it will inspire me to search for the words. For now…some picture images will have to do!


    1. Stuart, I was looking at the photo album you shared the other day. It really looks like an amazing festival. Maybe one day I’ll go… some of those structures were truly amazing (I loved the dancing woman). It looks like you meet some awesome people out there.


      1. Tokyo, It is hard to describe, It is and is not the People, the art, the music, the dusty and hot playa. It is all and it is none of those things. It is a spirit that I have only felt there. So many times watching the news, sitting outside the country looking back inside, it can be deflating. But Burning Man is this wonderful confluence of thousands of people and the voice of one. It would be my honor and privilege to help you make your first journey to the Flame and to the Playa. The pictures are nice but I talked to my middle son today and he said there was something there that is not captured on a video, in a gallery of pictures or on a 1000 images.

        While we had set up our tables to gift passer-by with “Cargo” we had collected as well as 14 dozen home-baked cookies and sticky buns, a middle-aged woman rolled on on one of those low slung, looks like you are laying down bikes. She was emotional. She stopped in front of us and said “I have cerebral palsy and I have never ridden a bike. My husband thought I could ride this…” and then she continued on crying with joy as she rounded the corner. My entire camp was dumb-struck by what had just happened. That was just a moment on a Wednesday morning. Those moments happen all around us, both here and on the Playa. They just need us to capture them. Stuart


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