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What I Say When My Son Feels Small

By Briana Feinberg

You are unfathomably infinitesimal—our entire planet is a mere tenth of a pixel seen from the edge of our solar system, four billion miles away; so minuscule that all 7.7 billion earthlings could fit inside our sun a million times, and that same sun could fit inside UY Scuti, our galaxy's largest star, another 1700 times, that star being so large that a single revolution around it would take 10,000 years, that is to say this December would mark the end of an orbit that began long before the oldest ancestors on our family tree lived, before Neil Armstrong and Amelia Earhart and George Washington and Shakespeare and Joan of Arc and Jesus and Aristotle and Hatshepsut and even Gilgamesh, an orbit that began before history was recorded, when the woolly mammoths and saber-tooth tigers were drawing their last breaths back in January of this very, very long year on our very, very little planet full of the tiniest living beings, of which humans make up only .01%; and that enormous star is one of several hundred billion in our galaxy, which is itself only one of a hundred billion galaxies in the universe—and yet you, my dear son, are made up of seven octillion atoms that came into being 13 billion years ago and have seen the interiors of stars, traveled through galaxies, erupted in ancient volcanoes, crashed onto ocean shores, passed through dinosaurs, and maybe even Beethoven or Einstein before forming the unique and unfathomable you.

Briana Feinberg is a museum educator, stay-at-home mom, homeschooler, and Buy Nothing aficionado, who delights in experiencing cosmic vertigo.


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