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I’m particularly proud of that line.
Years ago, I was in a cab on my way to La Guardia airport, sitting in tied up traffic on a freeway overlooking Brooklyn. As far as I could see in every direction was just red. Red everywhere. Bricks. I was floating on a yellow raft in a sea of bricks.
I got to thinking about the history of New York, and all the millions of people and the boats and the hopes and the landings and the awakenings and the vibrance and the toil and hardships and the histories cultivated.
But mostly, I wondered to myself… “Imagine how many f*cking bricks there are in Brooklyn.”
To me, the song All Roads is about feeling the lightness or emancipation of humility. Accepting the infinitesimal nature of our existence. In a billion years, it’s all just space dust. Our histories, our religions, our art…
I’ve been spending a lot of time catching up on the work of Richard Powers. The Overstory is a monumental achievement - simply one of the most impressive pieces of writing I’ve ever come across. But Bewilderment… That book is the most poetic and impactful novel I’ve read since The Handmaid’s Tale. It just nailed me. I wept several times. It’s hard to believe that there is a human smart enough or emotionally intelligent enough to manifest Bewilderment.
His work has enhanced how I look at the natural world and I am thankful. If all life on Earth was compressed into a single day, mammals would exist for maybe a minute, and humanity, the duration of an eye-blink.
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And so, though I firmly believe in spiritual interconnectedness, and cosmic wonderment, I do not believe there to be a greater meaning to our existence. I find this so freeing. Rather than bumbling around, seeking external evidence of our empirical importance, or confirmations that we are living up to some supposed benchmark of personhood, we can simply assign beauty and meaning to all of the things that bring us joy and purpose. Love. Friends. Family. Connection. Flow. It’s a license to accept. To eat, drink, and be merry. To choose kindness, if only for the reason that it feels good.
Being Somewhere was, at least in part, titled as a nod to the 1979 Peter Sellers & Shirley MacLaine film Being There. In it, Sellers’ character Chance (or “Chauncey”) approaches every encounter with an impossible lack of presumption. Childlike wonder. Cosmic humility.
So, I suppose, to me, the line “Feeling like a brick in Brooklyn”… it’s about feeling like a very small thing amidst an unfathomable quantity of other small and large things. And that it’s okay. I can be in my skin, fragile and imperfect and weird.
Beautiful post. Really describes humanism as a way of looking at and understanding our place in the world. Keep rocking