Remember when things felt worth doing because the future looked bright? I remember, though just barely. These days it’s really challenging to retain a level of hope and excitement in the face of so many existential threats that, taken together seem all but certain to take us over the cliff, down into a nightmarish, hopeless struggle to survive, ultimately ending in extinction or a life too miserable to contemplate or something like that. Ugh.
Looking back, I was born in the 50’s, and throughout my childhood and into young adulthood it seemed the possibilities were boundless. I was inspired by stories of great musicians such as the young genius Mozart and by stories of the amazing artists and writers and statesmen and heroes of sport and “real life” who left their mark while making the world a better place and expanding human knowledge and leading the way into a bold new “universe.” We were inspired in the early stages of space exploration and medical advances were accelerating and technology was innovating and records were being broken as humans seemingly evolved further and further. Life seemed to be getting better for more and more of us and all the wonders of the future seemed to be developing as we moved through the 60s, 70s and 80s.
As I discovered my initial interests, and later my “bliss” it seemed a heroic pursuit in it’s own right to become the best and most creative person I could be in my area of interest (music) as a way of contributing to the honorable quest to help take our species ever higher on the evolutionary scale. It was worth all the sacrifices and the long hours of practice and work because in my heart I knew (foolish me…) that at worst I would leave a legacy that surely someone would benefit from. My efforts were permeated with meaning and “truth.”
Today, reading the news to start off my Sunday, I am bombarded once again with the plethora of imminent disaster that awaits us over the next couple of decades — Climate change, A.I., civilization’s devolution, etc., etc. The promise of the future has faded away, replaced by the dark specter of what’s to come. We’re rushing towards the tipping point(s) that will destroy the balance of pretty much every facet of the systems that make up the dynamics of our amazing and wonderful world, and we’ve let it go for so long it’s virtually certain we’re S.O.L..
So what’s the point. What do we do? How can it be worth striving to be better when it appears it will all be for naught?
We live. We go on as if we still have a chance to mitigate the problems to the point that we can survive and life is worth living. Whether we actually can survive in a world that’s “worth living in” is actually beside the point. The way things are in this universe is far beyond the coming and going of a particular species, world, galaxy, or whatever my exist, has existed, or will exist. Anything can happen… everything we have can be taken away at any given moment… everything can be given at any time. Motivation must come from within, regardless of all external trappings, as our energy is, and always has been a part of our existence and our universe, and ever will be.
Hope is always there for us to embrace if we choose to embrace it. I choose to try. I will undoubtedly have to go through this exercise over and over again to maintain that attitude. For today I will take the Galaxy Quest course and say “Never give up! Never surrender!”
Could not agree more. The last few years have been very hard for me. I am a life long optimist, and while I am grounded in reality, I have always tried to see the best in the world around us and those striving to navigate this existence, but it is getting harder every day.
That said, I could not agree more with your parting quote!