I know I rant a lot about… Well, basically everything. It is enormously therapeutic, but I don’t want you folks out there to think that I think EVERYTHING sucks. There are some really great things out there, too. And just as some people don’t seem to notice how bad the bad things are, some people don’t notice how amazing the amazing things are, either. I mean, I’m typing this on a tiny electronic device while a giant electronic device carries me to work. Seriously, that’s pretty astounding, and it happens every day.
Think about your cellphone. It wasn’t so long ago that, if you wanted to say something to someone, and they weren’t in earshot, you either had to go find them, or send someone to do it for you. Now, on a whim, you could pull a device out of your pocket and type in “What are you doing?”, and in minutes you’ll get an answer. In the old days you’d never write “What are you doing?”, because by the time they received the message, they wouldn’t be doing it anymore. Even better, you could call them up, and they could answer you in their own voice! Jeez, before the phone, if someone lived more than a few miles away, you would be more likely to recognize their handwriting than their voice. Now it is a little unnerving when you find yourself WITHOUT a means to keep in touch.
Moving on from the more basic functions of the phone in my hands, I’m rocking the new Google Nexus S. Earlier I had trouble spelling the word “therapeutic” and the phone told me how. It looked at the pathetic attempt I was making, looked at the whole rest of the English language, and picked the word I was trying to spell. Before spellcheck, my grandparents had to look that sort of thing up in a dictionary. And if you didn’t know the first few letters? Well then, I guess you’ll be using a different word, then, won’t you? Now I can spell the word tchotchke. TCHOTCHKE! Oh, and I just got an email on my phone from Houlihan’s. Less than a century ago it would have taken the combined resources of two world governments, the best minds in science, and a pair of machines the size of school buses to send an image digitally. Now a restaurant chain is doing it at random to try to entice me to buy stuffed mushrooms.
And yet, all of that is just the stuff that WE did. There are things happening on their own that are even more amazing. This morning, while I was asleep, there was a lunar eclipse. We are talking about chunks of rock and nuclear explosions, all held together by an invisible force that is among the weakest in the universe, and yet they are moving with such precision and regularity that we actually KNEW that, at this moment, on this day, the shadow of one would perfectly cover the other. Last night you were laying on the surface of a planet, protected only by a layer of gas held down by a force we don’t fully understand, orbiting at a speed of 108,000 km/h, around a ball of burning gas that is itself orbiting at a speed of 903,600 km/h , sometimes in the wrong direction, around what may or may not be a super-massive black hole, that is ITSELF sliding along at another 1.98 million km/h. AND YOU SLEPT THROUGH IT! Our existence is so mindbogglingly precarious that it is truly awesome, not in its modern “really really cool” sense, but in the “I cannot breathe, so potent is the intensity of this revelation” sense. You should be filled with wonder and amazement, not only that you came to be in the first place, but that you and your species have existed long enough to invent fried Twinkies.
The life I am living is infinitely better than even my parents could have imagined. All of the information I could ever want is keystrokes away. Hell, voice commands away! If I wanted to eat ostrich jerky, I could type those words into a search engine and find a place that would sell it to me before I got to work. The impossibilities of the world are so commonplace that we don’t even notice them anymore. I can’t decide if that’s an amazingly good thing or an amazingly bad thing. The one thing that I know for sure, though, is that it is amazing.