February 26, 2018•591 words
One year is really long.
Ten is an era.
A hundred is a lifetime.
A thousand is a millennia.
Ten thousand is incomprehensible.
A hundred thousand years—unimaginably vast.
Yet two million years.
Two million years is the amount of time, give or take, that nature has been thoroughly employed with this side project.
The human species is a project that seems fresh, new, and cutting-edge. Yet it has been a work in progress for countless millions of years, if not billions.
We like to fancy ourselves the apex of nature's technical ability. We are the latest. We believe we are indispensable. Our mission is too important.
But time is patient. If humanity were to wipe its own existence, time will be unfazed and unmoved. What's another two million years raising up a new species, when it has the patience for billions?
If humans destroy themselves fully tomorrow, I do not believe nature would mind spending another five billion years on the problem.
Maybe ten billion. Or twenty.
Or maybe another hundred billion years?
Time is patient.
This understanding has grown recently within me, in response to my utter impatience towards the growth of my work and self.
For the last uncountable number of years, I've constantly told myself, what you're looking for—it's right around the corner. It's so close. You need to hurry.
I've told myself, my story is conclusive. It has a beginning, middle, and end. And I need to race through the pages.
In reality, the story is never ending. The book's pages never stop turning. Racing through it will drive you mad. And sure enough, madness ensued.
The current page of your story, of the whole collective human story, is special and sentimental only in that we are a part of it. On the grand scale of a story which began infinitely many years ago and will continue uninterrupted for another infinite number of years, our pages become not so permanent. They fade. The future is no doubt influenced by the past, but the contents of the past fade, given some eventual number of millions of years.
In some sense, this understanding has freed me from obligations to my legend. I look back on my footprints, and make sure they are neat and tidy. But it need not be so serious. Even if the universe has set for you some specific task, to fill some particular niche—it does not utterly depend on you. Even if it takes another hundred thousand years. The job will eventually be done.
The patience of time is mesmerizing and beautiful. There were humans who struggled about daily life, loved, and suffered two million years ago. And the project continues. Improvements are imperceptible on the daily, monthly, or even yearly scale. It measures progress on the order of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years.
Nature puts on profound displays of patience, yet I for some reason feel the need to measure myself after every task; to constantly see how far I've come, and how much further I have. It's madness.
That's the outlook I want. I want to give what I'm working on twenty years, before measuring. Before being expectant. Before contemplating tectonic shifts.
And what's the rush? You're one of infinite characters in a never ending story. Time is forgiving. Live slowly, patiently, presently; you need not reserve all your happiness and adventurousness for some future date when circumstances will be perfectly lukewarm and idyllic. When the story never ends, every point is as good as the next.