When You’re Little, Big Is Hard To Understand

When I was a kid, I couldn’t grasp the magnitude of the solar system. It was one of those things that just boggled my mind. Still does. The enormity of it.

I vividly remember learning about it in school, the fact that we’re spinning and then we’re also spinning around the sun. And I could never get how we couldn’t feel that. Because my brain couldn’t imagine our size.

Because the Earth is big. But it’s not big compared to the sun, or other planets. And trying to reconcile that enormity is difficult.

big 2
As a kid, even a lake is big. Forget an entire planet.

And now, as an adult, I catch myself listening to Joe Rogan (when he has non-MMA guests on the show) and he said he felt the same way. The enormity of space is mind-blowing.

He said this great line that really captures the whole feeling that comes from trying to understand our place in the universe.  I can’t get it exactly right this second, but it was something to the effect of…

We’re spinning on this ball in never ending nothingness, and we’re floating around a fireball that’s 100 times bigger than the ball we’re on.

Just. Yeah. Hard swallow.

That’s why I love when Dominic brings up questions about space. Because I remember feeling the exact confused curiosity at his age. If I had a timeline of my childhood, I could probably pinpoint it, it was that sharp of a moment.

And whenever I asked teachers questions about it, they just looked at me. They didn’t have an answer. Because I think I was asking things that just weren’t known.

“I kind of get the thing about the Earth being flat,” is what he told me one day as we drove home from somewhere.

And he listed the reasons why he thought that.

“If it were a circle, we’d fall off when we were upside down,” he explained.

And then we both had a moment. I got to actually see his mind absolutely blow, and he got to feel it. The look on his face, and the hard-stop on any of his movements, are something I won’t forget.

“How do you know we’re not upside down right this second?”

That was the stopper. The thing that, I think for a second, made him hold his breath.

“Also, gravity.”

That, too. But that at least gave him a smile. It also made me smile, knowing his curiosity led him to ask questions which led him, in this instance, away from one of the most absurd conspiracy theories going right now.

That’s all I want. For them to ask questions. Because they’ll never know where that curiosity will lead them.