Note #68: Twenty to tomorrow
We’re connected far more deeply than we think
You know those days when you go to work with a sense of what you need to focus on that day, only to get hit by something else that’s urgent—but you still have to do the other stuff too? That was today. This week was wild at work, and the two most packed days were right at the start and finish: our Monday was so manic I remember saying to a colleague that it could hardly get more intense, and then today happened.
I hope you had an easier week. Me, I’m looking forward to a more relaxed weekend, and especially to a special rerun of the original Matrix movie at our local cinema tomorrow evening. It’s one of my favourite movies ever, but I didn’t get to see it in cinema when it first came out, so this really is a first.
I’m happy to announce that my weekly essays are returning—hopefully by next week! After my realisation last week, about my needing support from fellow writers, I did reach out for help (despite some nervousness about it on my part), and I’m now very much looking forward to—well, words with friends again!
I want to say a special thank you to everyone who replied and commented last week: you are incredibly generous and I feel truly honoured that I get to share these words with you.
The rich also cry (thought)
That was the title of a Mexican telenovela that was incredibly popular in Nigeria during the 90s. I have no real memories of it, though, because I didn’t really follow it beyond a few episodes. But the idea in that line has always stuck with me, and all the more lately. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there’s a tendency online to dismiss the tragedies that befall people who are considered powerful or wealthy. On one hand, I’m always sceptical about online impressions of course: the most vocal people are often also the least typical. On the other though, I don’t dismiss it because the most vocal can also readily influence the general population.
But what’s most useful for me is using the views I find online as a check for myself. When I read things, I consider not just whether I agree, but more importantly, how it resonates for me, what my instinct is in response, and why—and if there’s anything I need to reconsider.
And in this case, what’s struck me is that ultimately there’s something about us that can tend toward dehumanising others. Historically humans have dehumanised the poor and weak while idealising the rich and powerful. (Side note: one of the interesting things to me about the Bible has always been the paradox in how it differed from the cultures of its time in reversing this, but then gets co-opted by the powerful in a tragic missing of the point.)
Now, though, the pendulum has swung enough that we feel almost okay to dehumanise the rich and powerful. But billionaires are in the end, also only human. And their tears are just as salty as anyone else’s.
And I remain persuaded that in dehumanising anyone, we end up dehumanising our own selves.
Speaking of which…
Healthy but doomed (quote)
I love Ursula Le Guin’s writing, and this week’s quote, summarising the previous paragraph, comes from one of my favourite of her books:
Or as the Yoruba put it: a rich man in the midst of twenty poor people is a poor man. That’s the lesson we’ve so painfully had to relearn as a planet this past year with COVID: I’m not okay if everyone around me isn’t. Because otherwise it’s only a matter of time before I’m affected too.
We’re more connected than we know.
When tomorrow comes (proverb)
This week’s proverb offers perspective on waiting:
Even “twenty years from now” eventually becomes “tomorrow.”
This proverb brings to mind something I heard as a child. It was in a conversation between two adults. One had been complaining about something that would take them four years when they were already in their early thirties, and the other replied: “If you do it now, in four years time, it would be history for you. But if you don’t, twenty years from now, you’ll still be thinking about it with regret. Which would you rather?”
Later this attitude would be perfectly summed up by what would become one of my favourite sayings: The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is today.
What have you been putting off? Tomorrow is almost here.