Of all the differences between us (those we unearth and those we invent), we have one MASSIVE thing in common. You reading this, me writing it, all our friends.
We are all sharing this particular instant in the history of the planet. Right now. You and me. Right here. This moment belongs to all of us.
Think about how rare that is. So many folks have been and gone, never overlapping our time; they can never know what we know. Same with those who will come after us. CLUELESS.
I majored in history, and I definitely have a tendency to think of human life on the planet in a past-present-future continuum. I can forget about the great vastness of the present. And how precious it is.
Think about the secrets we share, those of us huddled here together in this great big Now. The things we understand that no one else will ever know like those of us who have touched the skin of the earth at this very moment.
In this time, many of us are grappling with the same concerns. What does it mean that technology has made us so interconnected? How can we reconcile the human race’s general indifference to climate crisis? In my adopted country we’re gripped this week in the implications of (yet another) horrifying murder of a Black American at the hands of the police.*
I wonder if these are the issues that will be remembered as the defining features of this era. We can’t know—and to a large extent it kind of depends what happens next. As the great bard of this age Ani DiFranco has written, “what happened always adjusts/ to fit what happened after that.”
It’s easy to casually define what’s notable about past eras. The roaring 1920s and the “interwar period” more generally (a term that we can only, obviously, apply in retrospect. For those living in it, it was post-war; hurray!). The Reconstruction period. The Great Depression.
Those who lived through these times shared an intimacy that we can never come close to imagining. And as divided and far-flung as we are, this is true for us too.
It’s cool to live in a moment. You know? To share the cultural shorthand offered by the internet, the media, our deliciously shifting dialects and the very taste of the language we use. The ellipses that are created in cartoons and jokes that can only be filled by triangulating different layers of knowledge of our time. The reward that this kind of humor brings.
I love that there’s a sinuous movement in the right now that is so powerful when compared with the shimmering veil that is the future, or the archaic serifs of the past’s fading newsprint. Like feeling a big snake’s muscles moving beneath your hand. That’s what it is to be in the now.
(And so in conclusion, Your Honor, this is how I justify spending so much time reading Prince Harry’s book in the past two weeks.)
This article originally appeared on Rowan’s Wild Inventures substack newsletter. To subscribe and get all Rowan’s posts in your inbox, head over to Wild Inventures on substack now.
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