Published in The Daily Banter, Nov 11th 2016.
As the apocalypse descends, just enjoy the moment. What a beautiful reminder of the limits of our apish brains; how fragile our civilization, how transient each species on Earth; a testament to the fact that humans climbed out of the trees in Africa barely a second ago and exploded into a global society.
This isn’t the normal human condition. No preternatural reason will preserve our place here. No transcendent purpose will propel us toward the stars. The comet could arrive tomorrow, but unlike the dinosaurs we can construct our own.
We evolved in a hostile world by surviving and reproducing in small tribes. Natural selection did not preference continually happy beings, but nervous systems able of stewarding fleshy vessels away from danger and toward food and sex. Evolution did not specifically favor brains capable of grasping the very fabric of reality. It did not evolve to co-exist with billions of other primates the click of a mouse away.
Yet, somehow, we appreciate that electrified tadpoles swimming in our heads shines the spotlight of self-awareness on the universe. We understand that time and space are part of the same cloth that can stretch and bend. We strive for otherworldly fruits, and against all odds we’ve produced something resembling success.
Rather than lament over our ignorance when we stumble in these pursuits, take a moment to consider the sheer odds against this. My three-year-old laptop can’t handle the newest programs today, yet our ancient cognitive toolkit runs the alien software of modernity. Not surprisingly, it does crash from time to time.
Like a Hubble photo of deep space, Trump delivering his Presidential acceptance speech yesterday immediately launches one into cosmic humility. A tiny patch of night sky harbors billions of galaxies. A reality television celebrity harbors millions of American votes. This has been both our ascent, and descent, into insignificance. If the world ends, at least we can locate solace in this: We almost made it.