Some shit I wrote on a plane…
I’m 30,000 feet over the Earth right now as I type this.
There’s something really strange that happens to me when I’m in a plane looking out the window. My mind just goes into a weird place. Maybe it’s because I’m physically vulnerable, aware that I have no control over what happens to me until I get on the ground. I’m aware that my life is at the mercy of the pilot and the physical tolerances of the metal and other materials that are used to construct the plane. I can only sit helplessly in my seat and hope that the poorly paid, and equally poorly motivated safety inspectors have done their job.
I think that’s a part of the feeling.
I don’t think that’s all that’s going on, though. I really think it’s a matter of a more balanced and honest perspective that comes from looking at things from above. There’s something about viewing the planet from the sky that just completely puts me in check. I get scared, and I get nervous, but my mind also races with awe. I can see the whole curve of the globe, the massive ocean and the land around it, instead of just seeing what’s on my block, or what’s in front of my car while I’m driving. There’s something about getting a fresh view of the world from above that really let’s you know your place in the universe. Why don’t we ever think about this? You get caught up in the day-to-day grind of work-bills-sex-sleep, and every now and then you look up at the pretty sky.
"There’s more important things to do than staring off into space, you’ve got work to do."
Well, you know what? There’s not. It’s just an illusion that anything you do is EVER important.
You ain’t shit.
You’re not, I’m not, and no human being that has ever walked the face of the planet is even remotely important when you look at the big picture. We’re important to US, but like I said, WE ain’t shit, so the significance of anything important to us is just a matter of perspective. You’re just another bug on a rock spinning in space.
The ego tricks you.
Your survival instincts and DNA will try very hard to convince you that YOU are important. You’re special. It’s very, very important that YOU survive, even if all the other people around you don’t. It’s just a biological trick, and in some part of my mind that’s only running in the background I’m aware of it, but it’s really brought into the foreground when I fly.
I try very hard to bypass all of those deceptive thoughts. I try very hard to be objective. I use martial arts, I use yoga, I use meditation, I use pot, I’ve even used an isolation tank… but nothing manages to put everything into perspective quite like flying does.
It’s only a matter of time before something ends this planet.
And you know what? In the greater spectrum of the universe, it’s not even really going to be a tragedy.
Considered along with the constant, and incredibly immense events occurring every second of every day in the universe, it’s barely even going to register. No more than how the death of a single spore of mold affects you.
Look up at the sky.
Right now, as I type this, black holes are devouring entire solar systems, sucking them in to a force of gravity that we couldn’t even begin to comprehend, and pulling them down into the event horizon, crushing enormous planets many times larger than the earth into something that would barely be viewable on a microscope. There is something like 100 billion stars in this galaxy alone. Each star represents a solar system, and this galaxy is one of 50 billion galaxies in the known universe.
Do you really think it matters if the earth survives? Do you really think it matters if humans survive? Do you even think that biological life is "important" at all? Isn’t the universe itself alive in a way that’s far more impressive and significant than anything "biological?"
Despite the illusion of structure and permanence created by all the things we’ve built and all the society around us, this is all just temporary, folks. We’ve tricked ourselves into thinking that even if we die, the earth as we know it will always survive. We’ve even got some nifty concepts that make us more comfortable with the idea of death, like "reincarnation" and "heaven."
Some news program is running on the airplane’s TV monitor. It’s showing some bullshit about the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq. It stinks like a poorly orchestrated plot in a made for TV movie about a war, complete with bad acting and a bad guy with a bad mustache. American flags are waving in the wind, and the president flubbed his lines.
Maybe the asteroids aren’t gonna get a chance to do us in. Maybe we’re gonna fuck it up on our own. I can easily imagine the end of it all. A series of enormous fuck-ups and nuclear explosions, the end of mass communication, and the return to an era of rubbing sticks together to start fires. Personally, I’m praying for an asteroid. I don’t know why it matters, but I would be severely disappointed if the human race wound up killing itself off before something "natural" did us in.
This generation might survive long enough for anyone reading this to die of old age before we’re hit, but I’m not betting on it. If it was going to happen in a month or a week or a year, do you think that the government would let us know? Why would they? It’s not like if you knew about it, you could do anything to change it, so why tell you?
What would happen if I were one of the few that lived through it? Would I be able to adjust and survive? Would I even want to at this point?
I’ll miss the life I have now. I’ll miss the heat when I’m cold, and the air conditioning when I’m hot. I’ll miss being able to sleep in, and not worrying about survival. I’ll miss tivo.
Most of all, I’ll miss my friends and family that won’t make it.
Who will win American Idol? The finals were scheduled to air only 3 days after the asteroid hit, and I really want to know who the people picked. Are they really going to cancel Friends? Since there are no more TV stations, can they do it as a play? I heard that Joey and Rachael were still alive…
The living people will gather together and pick leaders. Even in an obvious holocaust, they will decide that people can’t handle the truth.
They will tell lies, but people will believe them, because they need hope. They want the old ways to return.
Women want to have children, without worrying about them getting eaten by animals.
If the great flood hit, and only a few thousand of us survived, what would life be like?
How long would it take, if we had no books, before we discovered electricity again?
How long before we broadcasted images through the air again?
It could take thousands of years.
With everyone concerned with survival, the time for innovation would be few and far between.
Eventually, electricity will be re-invented for perhaps the 3rd or 4th time in the written, and lost history of the humans.
We like to think that we’re smarter than people from the recent past, but all we have over them is the improved ability to communicate. We have the internet. We can talk to people from anywhere and everywhere. We can pretend to be 13-year-old girls to lure in perverts.
We are a people that need and exist on things that we have very little knowledge of. Most of our daily lives are filled with technology that we barely understand on the most basic level, and if we had to duplicate it, we would be horribly lost. I have but a rudimentary knowledge of how electricity works. I just turn on switches and pay my power bill.
I love technology, and I even build my own computers, but where would I be without a company to make the parts? If all the parts and manufacturing plants were 400 feet under the ocean, how long would it take for me to figure out how to make one on my own? The answer is it would never happen.
Not in 500 years.
What would the most advanced coders and programmers do if they were stuck in the wooded peaks of mountains?
They would try to survive.
Would they have children?
Would they pass down the knowledge of computers?
They would tell stories, and try to explain it, but by the time their grandchildren have grandchildren, it will all be nothing but myth.
No one would have a phone to communicate with. Languages would evolve and morph, and if you traveled just a few hundred miles, it would be like stepping into a foreign country. Sort of like how it is now in other parts of the world.
With what little the average American knows about the very things that shape our society, within two generations, all would be lost.
Our documentation of our achievements is all on flimsy, fragile mediums like paper and hard drives. The spoken word can’t be trusted even today with full control over mass communication. For the most part, people are liars with weak minds. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, we still teach our children that Columbus discovered America, and Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
I watch documentaries about the pyramids and all sorts of ancient structures that we can’t explain, and it’s all beginning to make sense.
We’ve been this way before, and it’s probably not the last time this is going to happen. This is all just temporary, and people are going to start again from scratch. Who knows, maybe they’ll even get it right this time.
Where’s that flight attendant, I think I need a drink.