13 July 2008

sea of humanity

So, the other night, I went to see The Roots play at the Gallivan Center. (It's so good of SLC to put on these fantastic free concerts in the summer... I think this is a good place to live).

So anyway, I wiggled my way through the larger-than-anticipated crowd. I could hear the band, but I really wanted to SEE what was happening on stage. Despite the best efforts of every one of my 70 inches of height, I could see nothing but the backs of the heads of those who were greater than 70 inches in stature. "The Roots" show soon became a study of the girl in front of me who obviously hasn't been in to the salon lately to become blonde again. One of the good things about being a guy who doesn't really like beer, is.... most everyone else thinks that they do. The line at the beer tent was hilariously long, and was continually fueled by people in front of me who thought that they needed another brew. Eventually I shimmied my way to a good view. The Gallivan Center lawn is not a huge space, but somehow, a sea of humanity had flowed in, making it seem much more expansive.

Large groups of people tend to put me into a pensive mood. There are so many fascinating dynamics at work that g0vern the behaviour of the individuals that make up the group. The mass of people tends to become a singular organism, being influenced by other things to behave in certain ways. The behavior of the singularly huge crowd then in turn influences the behavior of the individuals... the feedback loop fascinates me. It's life in microcosm. Perhaps the moment when the show ends, and we all turn away to go home.... returning to our "normal" mode of behavior... is like death... a time when we have no choice but to return to our natural state. What is that state, anyway?

As I looked out over the crowd, as I caught the occasional whiff of pot from the stoners in front of me, as I dodged spilling beer, I could not help but wonder... what is the point of life, anyway? What does each individual life mean? If just one of these 10 thousand people were to disappear at this moment, would the group notice, or care? Would it change the group in some fundamental way?

Probably not.

What then, is the value of one life?

What is the value of MY life?

In the midst of a rousing rendition of "Get Busy", I had an epiphany.

If I live my life in a vacuum, and do not affect the lives of others for good... my life would be of no consequence.

I realized how we are all connected to each other. We make each other's lives matter. You make my life matter, just by taking a moment to read my blog. You've just given my life a bit more meaning. The simple things we do for each other every day, create meaning. The major things do to, but I think that small deeds often have a larger aggregate result than a few large heroic deeds. And they are so easy to just dole out as we go along every day.

Okay... now, back to that insane sousaphone solo happening on the stage...

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