Our Lives Are Not Our Own

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“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” – Cloud Atlas

I’ve been thinking a lot about that quote the last few days.

I need to re-watch the movie soon. I still love it to pieces, even if it wasn’t QUITE as good as the book. But it’s silly and funny and weird and exciting by turns. The tone of it is so unique and singular, that even when it’s maybe not 100% working it still fills me with quite a bit of joy. The thing I love so much about both, however, is that it tries to encapsulate something so grand and bold and beautiful… the arc of not just one life, but the arc of how all history is the sum of moments and choices—big and small.

That feels very right to me. It’s very hard, as a little human on a little rock in a very big universe, to try to really work out how to move forward when the world seems awfully dark. We all have our places we run to in those moments.

Me, that’s when I try to imagine myself not just in that vast ocean of the universe right here and right now, but also as that tiny, fleeting second in time where my part of a much larger story takes place. If we can look forward and backward, and see the arc of our collective story, then maybe it’s not so bad. We’re terribly disappointing at times, sure. We seem slow to learn. But we’ve made a lot of strides, too. I’d say living here and now is preferable to any time in the past, if you remove the rosy glasses and nostalgia filters.

By doing that, the way forward seems clear enough. If every crime and every kindness shapes our future… all we can do is try to choose kindness, each and every time.

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