On Things That Don't Matter

Written by Prof. O. Lazarus Boone

Today, in just a few hours from now, there will be a rare astronomical event. This total eclipse will pass directly overhead in my area, allowing for a vantage point of perfect alignment of sun, moon, and earth. Many eager nerdy tourists have descended on the area to catch a glimpse of this event.

Just a little more than three months ago, it was New Years Eve. Aside from the holdouts who are just way too cool to do so, nearly everyone made a resolution, or even a few of them.

Have you achieved yours?

Do you even remember what it was?

Maybe it seems silly in retrospect, or even makes you feel the tiniest twinge of embarrassment, that you even made a resolution at all or - more precisely - that it seemed to carry so much weight at the time.

It's the same with this eclipse event. It's carrying tremendous weight for a lot of people. My understanding is that it's shutting down schools, workplaces, and roadways, and stores are cleaned out of snacks for "eclipse parties."


Of course we know why. The New Year is a holiday and an occasion to get all fancy (or even a lil' slutty, just for fun), to party it up, and we love those. The eclipse is a rare event, fascinating and beautiful and far bigger than ourselves, and is not to be missed if you're in a geographical position to catch it.

We put a lot of stock in events like these at the time, and that's okay. There are countless other examples of this phenomenon: birthdays, graduations, mitzvahs, christenings, and the like. Even more fleeting (and frequent!) examples abound: what we wear, where we go, who we spend time with, where we shop, how we vote, and a million other tiny occasions to which we temporarily assign hand-wringing and big feelings.

Should we? Should you?

Let's get nerdy for a moment.

You've almost certainly heard of the Butterfly Effect, even if you don't fully know what it is (which is okay!). It's an idea borne from so-called Chaos Theory, or Complexity Theory. Another idea stemming from this general concept is perturbation and equilibrium. Like the yin and yang of ordered randomness, the idea is that if you perturb a system, one of two things will happen: Either the system will return to its original equilibrium (i.e., return to how it was before you bumped it), or it will find a new equilibrium - that is to say, it'll settle into a "new normal," forever changed.

It seems to me that the huge majority of ZOMG SO IMPORTANT events in our lives, like the ones discussed above, fall into the first camp; they're consequential for a moment, but our lives (our "systems") return to their previous state pretty quickly and the event and its circumstances are absorbed into our systems as though they never really happened. Sure, we can recall some of them; those who witness this eclipse will have an indelible mark left on their memories, for sure. But unless you're that one single kid who is so enamored with the eclipse that it compels you into a career as an astrophysicist (and that kid is probably out there somewhere today), within weeks or even days it'll become "yeah, I was there, and it was pretty cool" for you...and not much more. You place even less neurological and emotional emphasis on those tiny, more frequent events.

The point

So, what the hell am I driving at?

Relax. That's the point.

We are fully and completely immersed in some kind of wicked, disgusting combination of that one Star Trek episode with the little eye zapper game and of Debord's Society of the Spectacle. We look for life in the image of life (a subject for one or several meaty posts here!), and the result is that we place undue emphasis - maybe even near obsession in some cases - on these dozens of daily moments and decisions that are functionally irrelevant and do not change our system's equilibrium at all.

Every one of us has experienced an orbit-shifting event in our lives, and we really were changed forever afterward. Take a second to stop reading and really think, though: How many of those events have you truly had? Honestly? Even for those of us with eventful lives (and I submit I'm one), there just aren't that many of those 'knock us off our foundation' experiences in life. Overall, that's a very good thing.

That leaves all the hundreds or thousands of not-orbit-shifters we've been through. As these things go, and as you continue to face moments like these in the future, I want you to remember a couple of things:

  • No one gives a shit about them except you.
  • No one remembers any of them. Not even you.

Think back to...September 4, 2023. I don't know why. It was a day that happened.

It was a Monday. Don't look at your calendar or your to-do list or your email from that day. Just use your memory.

What did you wear that day? What did you debate wearing instead, but ultimately decide against? Did you run an errand? What was it? Did you get stuck in traffic and all pissed off about it? What social media post did someone make that made you irate or deeply touched or laugh uncontrollably? What excuses did your kid make to avoid chores?

You can't answer a single one of these. I'd bet real money on it. Even if you checked your calendar, I bet you still couldn't answer any!

THAT is the point. If you can't remember these or a thousand things like them, then perhaps - just maybe - they aren't worth getting your undies bunched up over.

I know this isn't anything new. You've heard concepts like this many times before.

But you're not heeding it, are you? You still get all lathered up about every single little thing, don't you?

Change it, then. Relax. Let these things go.

You do matter, and so do the events of your life. You have the ability to pick which ones you get worked up over, though - good or bad.

If you're not likely to remember something, and it ultimately has no bearing nor impact on your life, let that shit go. Don't give it any real feels.

As an extension of this: For the love of God, turn off your social media. All of it. Forever.

You may be of a generation that remembers imploring young people to turn off the idiot box because it's rotting their brain. You may have been one of those young people (I was).

Social media is the new idiot box, and it makes TV a purring kitten by comparison. It's the ultimate thing that doesn't matter.

(It's cancer.)

Please. I'm begging you. Turn it off. Walk away and never return.

I'm digressing, and this is a big subject for future posts.

I'm getting all riled up about it. I'm choosing to let it go and relax now.


Stella Natus Est

Written by Prof. O. Lazarus Boone

My hope with this little corner of the internets is for it to be a guidestar for anyone who can use it. Ideally, that'll be a wide group of folks.


For a very long time, it's been a point of pride for me to be able to gather into my brain hole a large volume of ideas, or very complex or conflicting ideas, or a seemingly unrelated bundle of ideas, and process those into digestible bits for my friends.

If you're reading this, you're my friend, stranger. After all, a stranger is just a friend you haven't met yet!

So you're the "target audience" for this babble. I hope with a deep passion that you find some use for it.

The point

In the spirit in which outfits like Snopes operate, I endeavor here to bring helpful analysis to tricky topics. Instead of urban legend and rumor, like Snopes does, I will instead take on ideas and concepts and platforms.

Everything I present to you here will be created carefully and thoroughly. I promise to always pass my thinkings through the following filters before sharing them with you:

  • Kindness above all else
  • Respect not far behind
  • Unbiased to the greatest extent I can muster

Note that that last filter, the unbiased one, means that the things I present here won't spring from any particular religion, spirituality, political leaning or party, or culture.

I am aware that this risks putting you out, rubbing you the wrong way, or otherwise upsetting you. Please try to set your own leanings aside when you're on this site; I want this place to be a DMZ of ideas and passions. It's internet Switzerland.

If you do find yourself upset or disagreeing with me or even a bit angry, that's a good thing! Just try to bear with me without knee-jerk reacting. Really take some time to reflect on your feelings and your ideas, and try not to dismiss mine out of hand. It's only when we're challenged that we can grow!

Final thoughts (of my introductory thoughts)

I want to bring people together here. That's the whole point. The only point.

We spend WAY too much time at odds with one another. We can be better. Let this site be the catalyst for that. No judgment (of you, or from you!), no name-calling, no shoving one another in boxes. You deserve to be treated with dignity and humanity, and I do, too. We all do.

While you're here, no one is a "dirty liberal" or a "Trumper" or a "nazi" or any other dehumanizing epithet. We're people, we're all carrying burdens, we're all frightened of the things we don't understand, and we all just want to live in peace.

And so, with all of this in mind, let's begin. Let's be.

When you hope to find your way, look here.

A star is born. Welcome.