What is Beautiful in the World?

In the midst of war, poverty, and grief, how can we find something worth living for?

Mike Treanor
7 min readJul 11, 2019


What is beautiful in the world? What is worth understanding and passing along to our children? Don’t answer so quickly. Think it over. The more we consider this question the more daunting it seems.

The power of insignificance

In the immense space we call our world, we are absolutely insignificant. If we could stand next to our nearest star, we would appear so small as to be undetectable by any means known. Not to worry, the tremendous radiation of the sun would burn us to dust and then turn our dust into ions before we got anywhere near our mark.

This magnificent globe of furious energy and has been able to sustain all life on Earth for billions of years using only a small part of 1% of its energy output, yet it is so absolutely tiny in the world of stars that it would remain undetectable standing next to the largest stars we know of. In fact, it would share our fate by being ripped apart and vacuumed up into a vortex of gravitational energy. Our sun is an insignificant well of energy in the vast universe.

Imagine a bird chirping on a spring day. Compared to the energy that we definitely know about so far and can measure and observe in the universe, our sun has relatively less energy than the sound of that bird chirping 30 miles away from us.

And yet, in the great emptiness of space, the two Voyager spacecraft launched by NASA in 1977 could measure our sun’s solar wind as the strongest source of energy for over 30 years as they travelled at top speed out of our solar system. They will begin to be considered ‘near’ other stars in about 40,000 years.

Closer to home

Realizing how insignificant our Earth is can lead to a strange, empty feeling. It is a powerful notion that leads us closer to the truth. But surely back home on the Earth, the human species is significant…



Mike Treanor

Mike is a software developer, chemist, motivational speaker, parent, and musician who writes about creativity and human nature.