The total perspective vortex

I’ve been on sick leave for 3 weeks now, and today my GP urged me to take the rest of this week off as well. What started as a virus ended up with heart complications, which although they are benign, are exhausting. So I have been napping the days away, and when I haven’t been napping, I’ve had plenty of time to think.

For me, too much time to think can often be dangerous, as I have a tendency to take myself too seriously and spiral in on my own thoughts in a vortex of despair. This time, though, I haven’t had the energy to despair, and I’m starting to think that perhaps I don’t take enough time to think in the day to day marathon that I call my life.

I tend to push myself hard, stress over everything, and believe that if I stop pushing everything will fall apart. Well here’s the thing: I stopped. I was forced to. And here’s the tally:

People dying as a result: 0

Civilizations collapsed: 0

Worlds ended: 0

Fires started: 0

You get the gist, I’m sure. What happened was that a good friend took over my beloved year 11 class, and by the sound of it they’ve been having a great time. My year 10s are safe in the hands of my team teaching partner. Sure, people have noticed I’m not around, but there has been a marked lack of screaming and catastrophe.

I have so many things I was going to do in that time. I have so many things I want to do when I get back. So much to build, so much to fix. But it is becoming increasingly clear that the world does not revolve around me. My school does not revolve around me. Even my classes don’t revolve around me. If I quit tomorrow, I’m not sure there would even be a ripple before everyone adapted and moved on.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not getting all maudlin and “woe is me” about that. I know I have a lot to contribute. But if I don’t contribute it all in one day, the world will continue in its daily course undisturbed. I love my job, but maybe I need to take a step back from it every now and then, take a deep breath and look around me. Maybe I need to learn how to love it without being consumed by it.

Douglas Adams wrote that “In an infinite universe, the one thing sentient life cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.” But maybe sometimes we need to feel a little bit small, in order to remind ourselves that we are not wholly responsible for the universe. Sometimes the universe can get along just fine without us.


One thought on “The total perspective vortex

  1. David

    Yes, the universe can get along, but it will be a different without your special contributions. Remember you have already started many ripples. Hope you feel better soon, and get to do all those things you want to do.

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