There’s a chain of people linking us back to a time where we were simpler animals. It’s impossible to know what it felt like, because our brains will have been different then. Feeling will have been different.
But that was still us. It is still correctly in a position of our. Not of ownership, but of belonging.
And of course, if you take that thread of continuity further. You wander back, from ape to amoeba, from flesh to stardust. At which point we are common family with everything in the universe.
That connection back through history is utterly vital. And a lot of cultures pay more attention to their ancestors, the spirits of the people that went before.
I want to do more of that. Hearing the old stories around a fire, I feel connected to a humanity deeper than usual. Deeper because it is not just human. It is everyone and everything.
But I’m dodging the question, even though I pretty much picked it out.
We, as a generation, are going to be the ancestors of the future. We will be somebodies connection to the past. Having spent a weekend thinking about apocalypses, I’m not sure what they’ll think of us. I’m not even sure what they’ll know about us. If the digital world falls apart, then what traces are we really leaving.
How will we be referred to?
A world gone mad? A people who got lost? A broken civilisation, worshipped into self destruction? Born with a greed so hungry they ate the world?
I am not proud of our generation. I suspect those of the future will look on us with disgust. I suspect we will serve only the value of a cautionary tale. ‘This is what happens when a world looks inward and paints walls around itself’.
The world may well not crumble enough to leave only survivors huddled around fires. But it could. Even if it isn’t, I think this weekend has taught me that we should still be telling our stories in that fashion. Or at least telling stories that make sense in that world. Gathered around a fire, surrounded by darkness and the huge torrent of life it contains.
To reconnect to our future, we need to feel the thread of the path. Put our lives in the context of a whole world that breathes and lives in different ways.
If we fight, hard and long, we may be just end up being the ancestors who managed to turn things around when we came up against the wall. But its need easy to turn ships this big and slow around.
But I still have hope. I still have time to learn and tell new stories. I still have a connection to the world in my heart, that I thought I lost.
Every living thing shares a web of existence, has found a way to live. A story.
Our eyes should be open to stories of all of everything.
Connected, we build a future.
Illustration by Jaime.
Question by the Dark Mountain.
This week is a series of responses to questions I heard at the Uncivilisation festival, which I have since described as ‘the Writing Group at the End of the Universe’. For even more information, take a look over here.