It takes a lot to shock me these days, but my friend threw me for a loop over breakfast the other day and I had to wonder if I’d actually heard him correctly.
“You know,” he said, “we’re living in an age of miracles.”
We had been discussing advancements in medicine, from diagnostics to surgeries and the technologies that allow vaccines to target specific cells or RNA strands. I had to agree with his assessment about the benefits ahead, but that wasn’t what really had me stunned.
Slowly, it began to sink in that this was the first time in months, maybe years, that I’d heard a statement so positive, enthusiastic and appreciative about world developments. As I absorbed that reality, I was overwhelmed by the chasm. Had it really been that long since I’d heard something that optimistic about the world around us? Had it been that long since I, myself, had expressed such a positive view?
Sadly, the shocking answer was, “Yes.”
I started scrolling back through recent conversations, then more distant ones, until I couldn’t remember any specifics, but I drew a blank. Is it possible that we’ve all forgotten how to be optimistic? Have we lost all hope for the future? Are we fighting interminable battles with no conviction that we can ever win the war, or that we’ll even be happy if we win it?
No question, the last several years have been rough. From a shortage of jobs to a shortage of workers, from deflation to inflation, from the promise of freedom to the relentless tyranny of technology, from the social contract to the tribal exclusions, we have been through the wringer. Each of us has lost friends, each of us has absorbed shocks, and each of us has paid a price for the force-fed lessons of our shattered society.
And now, are we shattered as well? Are we so far gone that we cannot muster enthusiasm for the future on any level? Is the abyss gazing back and savoring its victory?
I can’t help but see us turning into a nation of cranky, miserable old men, well past our prime, aging beyond our ambitions, focusing on the disappointments of the here and now to the exclusion of our future potential. I see us traveling a joyless road by choice, through habit, almost unaware that we have the option to take a different path.
Wonder, awe, enthusiasm, optimism…perhaps these are muscles that atrophy without an occasional workout. It’s possible we’ve been exercising a different set of muscles for so long that we need a refresher course on how to see the light.
I know it’s not going to be easy to break free of our nearly nihilistic worldviews, to see the sunlight piercing through the cloud instead of focusing on the cloud itself. We’ve been savoring our despair for so long that we don’t seem to recognize anything else. That’s a habit, though, not a requirement, and habits can be broken.
One positive thing today. One positive thing tomorrow. They’re baby steps, but that’s how all of us begin our journeys.
If you don’t think we live in an age of miracles, think about the miracle of receiving a weekly message from Dad Writes, available to anyone who clicks here to subscribe.
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.