The Old Testament Book of Micah answers the question of why we are here with another question: “What doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
We are here to witness the creation and to abet it. We are here to notice each thing so each thing gets noticed. Together we notice not only each mountain shadow and each stone on the beach but, especially, we notice the beautiful faces and complex natures of each other. We are here to bring to consciousness the beauty and power that are around us and to praise the people who are here with us. We witness our generation and our times. We watch the weather. Otherwise, creation would be playing to an empty house.
According to the second law of thermodynamics, things fall apart. Structures disintegrate. Buckminster Fuller hinted at a reason we are here: By combinations, we counteract this flow of entropy. We make new structures, new wholeness, so the universe comes out even. A shepherd on a hilltop who looks at a mess of stars think, “There’s a hunter, a plow, a fish,” is making mental connections that have as much real force in the universe as the very fires in those stars themselves.
ANNIE DILLARD, Pulitzer Prize-winning essayist, poet and teacher, is the author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek