Significance.

Courtesy of phys.org. Taken by Voyager in 1990.

I sometimes mention that I’m cheering on the arrival of an asteroid. I really big asteroid. Given the choice this coming for November I’d probably vote for the asteroid.

Let me be clear, I’m not looking for an E.L.E., or Extinction Level Event. I don’t feel the need to do the dinosaur.

I just want an asteroid to pass by so close that it makes a really loud noise, the clouds get whipped around a bit, there’s some stronger than normal winds, and most importantly, the collective attention of humans is turned toward the Universe. I want a reminder of our place in the vastness of the cosmos. I want us to reset our perspective.

My husband and I were out for a walk this past weekend; we passed by several restaurants in the neighborhood that were opening up in a limited capacity. The current Chicago guidelines indicate social distancing measures, mask requirements, and table location requirements, namely that guests be seated in an outdoor or open air area. My husband and I, being middle aged guys at the moment, both needed to use the washroom and it was lunch time, so I hesitantly suggested we support a local business and eat at one of these newly opened restaurants.

The interior of the restaurant was cleared of tables. A space on the patio that would normally hold a dozen tables had seating for four different parties up to four individuals each. Everyone inside was wearing a mask, menus have been converted to paper editions, and there were cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer stations everywhere. Honestly, we both still feel rather uncomfortable with the idea of eating in public at the moment but we thought we’d give it a try.

The seating and server staff were fantastic. Social distancing was maintained, masks were worn properly, and it was obvious the team was going to extra mile to make sure everything was as clean as possible.

While we were eating a family of four parked their bicycles on the sidewalk out front and headed into the restaurant. They were loud and they had no masks on. Two of the kids started running around the place, and the apparent father made no effort to curb their behavior. One other party was at one of the four or five tables, so the hostess tried to seat them at a table away from the seated parties. The father wanted a different table in the corner and he insisted so they cleaned it up and over they went.

Not two minutes later the father decided they needed a different table, so he and the family went walking around, again without any sort of masks, and asked to be seated at a different table. The hostess was accommodating; they were reseated and the cleaning crew came in to sanitize the table they had just occupied.

The father then went out on the sidewalk to talk loudly on his phone; the kids ordered drinks and were making a bit of a ruckus at the table. A few moments later the father started eyeing a third table farther away from the hostess station, but then decided against relocating. Another phone call, he stepped away, and then he came back in and gathered everyone up and left the restaurant. Loudly.

The cleaning crew came in again and sanitized the second table, threw out the menus they had fondled, and tried to straighten up the place. The hostess ran to the back to cancel the drink order.

How rude.

I was hopeful that a Global Pandemic forcing us all to be responsible to quarantine and the like would help us re-evaluate our priorities and give us a sense of perspective. I know that I felt guilty the entire time we sat in that restaurant, as if it is much too early in this experience to be doing such a thing, and we decided that we’ll hold off before going out to eat again.

However, my concerns were confirmed; there are many that don’t want to embrace, encourage, or consider any sort of “new normal”. They want to go back to the selfish, immediate, hectic pace of life before the pandemic, and they’re not going to be happy until they can build the world in their image again.

I resolve this realization by imaging that asteroid swooping by, parting the clouds a bit, and forcing people into their homes. My imagination may be a little warped with this approach but it gives me comfort.

Every living thing known in the history of this planet has been on that Blue Dot shown in the photo above. We need to start realizing how insignificant we really are.

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