Matters

If it’s true for everybody, it must be true for you.

Or

The universal is personal.

Imagine if the world started spinning more slowly. What would that mean?

The end of the world, right? But slowly. And gradually.

And things that happen slowly and gradually are the new normal.

I just finished reading The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. It’s science fiction, which you all know I have issues with. And yes, it’s dystopian. The earth inexplicably has begun to spin slower. Days and night are longer, respectively. Other laws of physics we are used to relying on begin to break down.

That would be reason enough for a story. But this story is told from the perspective of a 6th grade girl. In a central California suburb.

It is distinctly possible that everything in the world of a girl that age is dystopian. Her best friend deserts her at the same time and her mom becomes unraveled. There are plenty of girls of that particular age who experience this while the world continues spinning as it always has.

I think that the author used the perspective of a girl as a crutch, not to have to explain why the earth changed spinning speeds. It’s a deus ex machina move, and to leave it unaccounted for is a hole in the story.

But once I forgave Walker for not giving me the sci-fi juice I felt I deserved, I could see the story for what it really was: the perspective of a very privileged and safe little girl suddenly in a world that is not longer safe for anyone.

What is safety? Her doting parents and solid best friendship turn out to be more tenuous than she realized. And when she could no longer assume what she had always relied upon, the lack of her best friend at her school lunch table was far more meaningful to her than the earth’s rotation.

For a 12 year old, that lunch table is vastly more important.

In the same way, our every day lives, experiences and relationship matter a lot more than the big issues.

It matters that someone wishes me well as I start my day. It matters what smiles I meet.

There’s not much I can do about the earth’s rotation. There’s not a lot I can do about a lot of things.

But I can be a force of love and kindness in the world. It makes a difference.

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