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Of Mites and Men

Your intrinsic insignificance does have an up side.

Guess what. In the larger scheme you’re not very important. You’re like a little dust mite that occasionally elicits a big sneeze, but ultimately winds up squished in a HEPA filter or on its back in a vacuum cleaner bag with its little legs flailing in the air.

Your primary legacy will be your carbon footprint, which will continue to expand after you die. If you’re buried in some cement lined hole in a sealed box you won’t decay and fertilize a tree. You’ll just keep slowly rotting and wasting good space. A teeter-totter or set of monkey bars could be there instead of your stupid tombstone! And if you’re cremated you’ll create air pollution that will drift up and further destroy the ozone layer, thereby facilitating the deaths of innocent others! When your wonderful friend climbs Mt. Everest to spread your ashes the altitude will accelerate the killing process. That’s just the way it is.

Oh my! How can this be? You’re a loving, sensitive, feeling person. Just today you looked at the sunset and wept as you were overcome by its magnificent beauty. I wept too. My eyes teared up from allergies caused by all the air pollution that produces those magnificent evening skies you write poems about.

Or maybe you cried with joy watching your adorable toddler giggle as your new little rescued puppy licked his face! The puppy was probably eating his own poop five minutes earlier. For that matter, your kid probably was too. That’s just the way it is.

And your brilliant, tech-savvy teenaged progeny destined to accomplish great things? He or she is probably on the Dean’s list! (Like ninety percent of the student body is these days). Unfortunately, they also probably have the attention span of a gnat, only able to fixate on games or music videos that don’t hold a visual for more than a second and a half. I do concede that they can multitask! They can text and simultaneously post photos of the food they are eating on Facebook with their smart phone since, Lord knows, out-of-focus guacamole photos truly enrich the lives of their “friends.”

Yes, there will be some of us who will nobly strive for greatness and achieve it. About one in ten-million maybe. But for every Mother Teresa devoting a life to healing and feeding the poor, there will be one hundred million straining our health care systems after decades of overeating. And by the way, that great doctor that you’ll be seeing about your health issues isn’t “one of the best in their field!” They’re just a decent enough physician who will save many and kill a few like most doctors do. That’s just the way it is.

Now there is an upside to all of this. You can lighten up! Everything isn’t about you. In fact, almost nothing is about you! Ninety percent of the stuff that you worry about doesn’t matter! Who cares if the rose on the damn wedding cake is red or blue? Your kid won’t be irreparably damaged if you yell at them or if they can’t get into Harvard. The sky will not fall because there’s a grub in your stupid lawn and your lover-of-the-day won’t commit suicide if you tell them they have bad breath, BO, or are otherwise odorifically challenged.

So just stop worrying and do whatever you have to do to take your best shot at being a decent human being. You won’t do great but you’ll probably do o.k. That’s just the way it is.

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