The World is Big

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The world is big. Incredibly big. Really incredibly enormous, beyond all reckoning.

Just think.

7.3 billion people live on this planet.

Billions of those people are short, billions tall. 

Billions smart, billions dumb.

Billions are women, billions men.

Billions of babies.

Millions are certified in accounting. Millions are not.

Sit on the corner of a busy intersection and count how many cars go by in 1 hour. Now double that number 13 times. That’s how many certified accountants there are.

There are so many people, that right at this very instant there are more people sleeping on a beanbag than there are visible stars in the night sky.

Right now, at this very moment, 17.8 million people are mowing a lawn.

Right now, at this very moment, 34,215 people are involved in an orange juice transaction, which is more than the number of successful vikings to have ever existed.

Right now, 123,400 people are surfing. 114,900 of those people are awesome.

Right now, at this very moment, 14.5 million people are simultaneously brushing their teeth.

At the same time, 8,740 people think they are brushing their teeth but they are not.

Some of them are brushing near their teeth but not really directly hitting the teeth areas.

Some of them are completely confused about what brushing their teeth entails, and so they are doing something else such as flossing or making guacamole, which, in their confused and reprobate minds, counts as teeth brushing.

Right now, 239,200 people are telling someone to shut up.

Right now, 21,400 people are telling some cat to shut up.

Right now, 3,640 people are telling some trombonist to shut up.

Right now, 48 people are telling some trombonist jazz cat to shut up

Right now, 2 people are telling a partially-built fishing boat to shut up.

Right now, at this very moment, 26 habitual litterers are being released from prison.

Right now, at this instant, 7 people, scattered all across the planet, are calling a hotel room copacetic. 

5 other people, scattered across the globe, are vehemently denying, at this very instant, that a given hotel room is in fact copacetic.

(It will be another 47 days until a a single group of 5 people collectively comments on whether a single hotel room is, in fact, copacetic.)

Right now, at this very moment, 6 people scattered across the Northern hemisphere are being menaced by a woodchuck.

One of them is someone in Vermont named Blaine. The woodchuck, also known as a whistle pig, will not back down. Blaine will be tormented and embarrassed by this experience for the rest of his adult life.

What is the world? Some people say that it is the whole planet, Earth.

Others point out that it is the entire universe, including all the planets and stars and dust and other stuff (if there is any), however distant in time or space.

If that’s true, then the preceding may be a vast understatement.

There may be vastly more surfers, beanbag sleepers, teeth brushers, false teeth brushers, OJ buyers and sellers and middle men, failed vikings, habitual litterers.

Some of these people might be carbon beings living on planets that resemble Earth.

Others may be silicon beings living on digital planets or quantum beings living in energy fluctuations, beings that we can scarcely dream of in our trippiest dreams.

Some people, those who misleadingly think themselves astute, will point out that these things—all of the commonplace events listed above—cannot all happen “at once”, since, as Einstein has taught us, there is no absolute simultaneity.

But then, consider: 93,200 young adults will fail a physics exam within the next 75 minutes.

You cannot fully imagine how big the world is, nor what the implications of its bigness are, because there’s just too much to imagine.


Groundhog pic licensed under Creative Commons.

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Written by

Alex Baia is a humor writer and contributor to McSweeney’s and Slackjaw. He lives in Austin, TX.