So I’ve been thinking about life in general lately. I’m about to go on vacation and the first thing we will do when we land in Kentucky is head to a funeral. Those things always tend to focus your mind on your own life, for at least a few minutes. Also I had the experience of learning a valuable life lesson from my own daughter, which is nice to see that she’s grown up level-headed enough to give me a wake-up call even. Yesterday the Cosmic Wife, Cosmic son and I drove to a large mountain reservoir that I’ve been wanting to investigate for a while, and it was an absolutely idyllic mountain lake, with very little conjestion. Although the lake has a very large and accomodating boat ramp, there were only two motor boats that I saw on the lake the whole time we were there. There were maybe half a dozen canoes and kayaks, but for the most part the lake was pristine and the water was clear and blue. The lake was dominated by the towering image of Pikes Peak just to the south. It made me once again decide that I just had to buy a boat. It’s been too long since I’ve been out on the middle of a reservoir with a fishing rod, some soft drinks and some good old 70s rock and roll to listen to.
The whole “moving to Atlanta” thing has cooled down, my boss hasn’t mentioned it in weeks. So it looks for now like we won’t be moving for at least a year, and when we do, it will probably be just to move down into the city. I do love Colorado and would hate to have to leave it.
I’ve been trying to observe national and international events with a more detached and objective eye lately. I tend to get too obsessed in such things when I pay too close attention to them. I’m pretty much convinced that most of my caterwauling about this or that minor political upheaval is all just playiing harmonica on the Titanic anyway. This world is going to change drastically in the next few decades, and much of what I fret about will become more or less pointless if things go the way I think they will.
I was talking with the Cosmic Son about some of this on the drive to the lake. He was asking what the world would be like when people didn’t have or need jobs anymore. He couldn’t wrap his mind around an economy where people didn’t spend the majority of their lives working. If technology continues to move in the direction it is moving, at the pace it is moving, I think it is likely that he will see a world where the majority of people in “developed” countries don’t have “real” jobs. What jobs will people do when construction is done virtually entirely by machine? When trucks drive themselves? When the production of most necessary goods and services are automated and are done more efficiently and safely by machine than humans ever did? What will the humans do?
I told him that some people thought humans would turn into lazy, shiftless lumps who do nothing but interact virtually and lose interest in the rest of the universe. And I told him that some people viewed such a world as the final freeing of humans from enslavement to mind-numbing labor so that each and every human can pursue their natural interests unfettered by worry about material things.
Of course I think the real answer is a little of both. In some cases people will tune out and lose contact with reality, but others would pursue their interests with vigor and continue to expand the sum of human knowledge and experience. There will likely be social upheaval as the economic model of human-based labor finally crumbles, but a new economic model based on human intellectual and artistic pursuits would likely rise from the ashes.
Whatever the result, one thing I know with certainty is that most of the political and cultural conflicts of today will seem downright quaint.
Will it be a better world? A worse world? I don’t know. A little of both, I suspect.
But I do know that I probably wouldn’t want to live in it. We all tend to be products of our times, and I sort of like the world as it is today, with all its warts and problems. I like being able to jump in my car and drive 40 miles to an idyllic mountain lake where I can sit in the sun and watch the kayaks go by and feel the wind blowing in what’s left of my hair. I like the challenges that my career has afforded me, and the fact that by and large I have been successful in meeting those challenges. I like that I had to make my own way in the world and did not rely on the charity of strangers to survive.
I can’t help but think that we are witnessing the approach of a transformative cultural shift that will be comparable to the taming of fire, or the invention of the wheel, or the domestication of horses… I wonder just how much of that I will be fortunate enough to actually see.
Mortality is still with us. But for how much longer?