When I was a kid, I was often struck by the idea that at any given moment, someone somewhere on Earth was celebrating their birthday. Given the number of people on the planet, it just stood to reason. As I got older, the idea evolved; I came to see that every moment was, for someone out there, the worst or best moment of their lives. Every moment, the Earth witnesses scenes of hellish violence and idyllic peace. Somewhere, someone is awakening on a long-awaited day, while elsewhere someone is lying down after a grueling ordeal. Someone is pausing in a teeming crowd, someone is sitting alone. One person gazes at noonday Sun, another sits and contemplates the stars.
It was, and is, an overwhelming thought, this rush of simultaneity, this multitude of experiences all happening at once.
When I was a bit older, a teen, I imagined that if I listened hard enough on a quiet night, I could hear the low rushing sea-sound of billions of voices, the vast blanket of human thought and interaction stretching out and around me. There was a sense of being interconnected, in the sense that we are all human and can relate to each other at a basic level, at least. It was a comforting thought, really, this notion of a galaxy of humans swirling about on their respective paths. Yet, as I've said before, it brings with it a certain sadness, as I am reminded that I will never know beyond even a tiny, infinitesimally small number of all those people; vast numbers of potential staunch friends and great loves, all to remain strangers due to sheer logistics.
The internet helped cement these thoughts for me, long after the awe I felt when I was young had dissipated. The great net that is now cast across the Earth has helped rejuvenate that awe for me, to reveal that, indeed, the multitudes live out their daily lives, advancing the human experience one person at a time, but all together, and all at the same time.
Not long from now, as I write this, 2014 will begin its advance around the globe. The changing of years is, for me as it is for many, a time to contemplate both the past and the future. The passing year has not been the greatest for me (though really, I have no reason to complain), but maybe it was for you. I hope the coming year will be good for all of us.
Happy New Year.