Do We Matter?

How many lives do I reach in a given day, how many objects do I affect? The vast Earth, so much interaction, all connected, making a phone call across the world, or grazing someone’s arm on the subway, two sides of the same coin. The large coin covers all fellow humans, animals, objects, ideas. All part of a lively planet, no matter if it’s the world cup or a dust mite in your bed. Whatever it may be, a part of that world happens right outside your window.

So much to be seen outside my window, forever moving, forever changing, the skyline, the trash on the side of the street. Where to begin, thousands of people go by my window every day, thousands of faces, personalities, backstories that I will never understand, except for the millisecond I see them from 300 feet up. Some may be bankers or lawyers, or one may be a superhero, I will never know. The buses and cars that rumble down 1st avenue, straight through manhattan, never thinking, there may be someone watching from above, not a god, just me, sitting on my couch looking into their lives. What is outside my window, everything connected to everything else, a garbage bag, in it, one plastic bottle, blown from the other side of the world, drunk once and thrown into the ocean, just to float back?

A balloon, let go of by an infant, flying, being pushed by the air around my building, just to give me a glimpse before it floats into the clouds. It rises and rises, above the clouds, only to be met by a flock of geese in their triangle formation, the geese fly just over it, forcing it down slightly, but it continues upwards, fighting to get to the place above the sky, a magical balloon paradise. It starts easy, a full head of helium, pushing to leave the grasp of a small creature, finally let go, off to the races. Sprinting, not thinking about the energy it could used later. The journey has just begun and the balloon is none the wiser to the long road ahead. 

A snowflake, gliding up and down and all around through the wind on a cold winter’s day, finally settling on the ground. From above the balloon, down to the ground, packed with all its brethren. Scooped up by a shovel, making way for pedestrians, pushed to the side. Picked up and molded into a snowball, thrown through the air, exploding on the coat of a child, sitting there, resting for a short walk to the park. Still on the coat, but continuously less alone, more and more flakes join the ride. At the top of a hill, sitting on a piece of plastic, sliding, gaining speed, crash, rolling on the snow, left there, from the coat to the ground, the snowflake is home, among its fallen allies, solidifying a surface to be run over, only to evaporate and travel by my same window, going up, but invisible. 

All of this taking place in front of my eyes, all day every day, how many people’s windows do I walk by every day, how many lives do I encounter on this giant blue ball? How would their lives change had I not been there, would they have changed, do I affect someone halfway around the world, just by taking a certain route home from school. 7 billion people and millions of square miles, and one step can change the whole of it.

But by how much, what if these people, the balloon or the snowflake, or even me, what if we never existed, how much would the world change, these things outside my and many others windows, maybe the snowflake that makes one person too cold, and causes a disease that sends the whole economy into turmoil. it could be the snowflake that falls to a pile of snow in the middle of the woods, or on the street, to be passed by and to melt with no purpose. How about the balloon, it could be the balloon that is released and floats in front of a plane, news headlines, hundreds dead. It could be the balloon that gets released and runs out of air, it plummets to the earth and disintegrates over hundreds of years in the ocean. Me, I could be the next Elon Musk, an inventor, an entrepreneur, a space explorer. I could be a standard worker in a factory, with a standard family lifestyle. The possibilities are endless, billions taking place on the other side of a piece of glass that keeps me warm.

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