Usually the fact that I’m nothing but a tiny insignificant part of the universe doesn’t bother me. I figure I make my mark in some way or the other – and how much does it matter anyway, as long as I live a good life and am happy with my accomplishments?
Lately though, a few things have happened to magnify the fact that I’m not anywhere important to anyone. That if I fell of the Earth today, no one would notice.
Not long ago I attended a neighborhood meeting. I’m semi-active in the neighborhood – in a behind-the-scenes kind of way. I manage the email list, attend most of the meetings, help out at some of the events. I was chair of the welcoming committee, but that went nowhere (mostly my fault). The meeting was mostly about our fight with the local hospital’s plans for major expansion. I walked to the meeting with a neighbor. We talked at the meeting. We sat next to each other at the meeting. We walked home together.
This neighbor was one of the community members who volunteered to go door-to-door to access folks reactions to the expansion. When she came to my door she said things like: The neighborhood had a meeting a couple of weeks ago… and if you were at the meeting… to which I replied: I was at the meeting, we walked there together. We sat next to each other. I guess none of that mattered – she’s important because she’s going door-to-door. I’m not because she’s at my door.
Another thing that makes me fell small (although this completely comes from me – as far as I know) is the fact that my high school graduating class is having a “50th birthday bash” and I received an invitation to a party for our collective birthdays. I don’t live near the town where I went to high school, so replied that I would not be able to make the party. Since I recognized two of the organizers I made the note to them friendly. I also mentioned to one of them that her name came up at a funeral I attended. (she is the godchild the parents of a friend from elsewhere – just coincidence). The reason all this makes me feel insignificant is that I’m pretty sure that when the people who get these responses read my note they will say, “Who the hell is this person? She seems to think I know her.”
The third reason I’m feeling unimportant is based on the show I attended last night – I saw Dan Bern at the Birchmere.
I’ve followed Dan since May 23, 1997 when I heard him interviewed on NPR. I became a huge fan, only listening to Dan Bern for years and attending probably 30 of his shows. There was a brief time where I even hung out in the inner circle, with friends of his. One night, a week before his big Carnegie Hall gig, he even hugged me and kissed the top of my head. And what about that time he posed with Rupert?
People have asked me if Dan knows who I am, if he recognizes me. I usually said no, but in my heart I really thought he did. So, when I approached him after last nights show and said hi, not one ounce of recognition was in his face. Then I blathered on about having followed him for 10 years and thanking him for those ten years. He thanked me, and asked my name. I told him, then left.
On the way home the word insignificant repeated itself over and over to me. I pictured myself as a character in a movie (played by Toni Collette). She’s driving her car in heavy traffic, it is raining and the windshield wipers are screaming INSIGNIFICANT! at her over and over again. She finally gets lost at the airport. (which I did).
This morning I really don’t feel that way. I feel fine and not depressed or low or insignificant at all. But for a few hours last night I did. And it sucked.