According to NASA, the image above covers an area of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length. That’s a crazy thought. That speck reveals thousands of galaxies. Thousands. And that’s galaxies, not stars! The estimated average size of a galaxy is 100 million stars. You get it. The number of stars in the universe is mind-bending. It’s simply incomprehensible.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) provides breathtaking images. Similarly, looking into the night sky can evoke a profound sense of awe and wonder. However, contemplating the vastness and sheer number of stars in the universe opens another door of contemplation: our place in the universe. That thought threatens a profound sense of insignificance, making human life, let alone individual lives, seem inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. This sense risks a slide to “What’s the point”?
Even so, at the same time, JWST is a testament to humanity’s insatiable curiosity. The accomplishment of creating such a powerful eye into the universe and its past is amazing in itself. It reflects a powerful search for understanding. Many find a profound sense of purpose in that type of search and fulfillment in each success or achievement.
JWST represents the paradox of meaning: we desire purpose and significance but live in a world devoid of overt meaning. Navigating this paradox is a challenge in life.
Many patients enter therapy struggling with boredom, emptiness, despair, etc. They struggle with a lack of meaning, for instance, from the loss of a job (“the meaning of my life”) or the loss of faith and a transcending purpose (“the meaning of life”). Sometimes the problem is in plain view, while at other times, it’s lost, like a star in the sky, among numerous other issues. Watch for it. Talk about it. And support removing obstacles to finding meaning. And consider for a moment the work is likely part of the meaning of your life.
Links to Related Blog Posts:
Read more posts about meaning making in E-H therapy on EHI’s blog.
Read more posts about the existential givens in E-H therapy on EHI’s blog.
Read all the Existential Moment series posts on EHI’s blog.