Recently I’ve been engrossed in the book Magicians of the Gods which meticulously details the global catastrophe that occurred about 12,000 years ago.
As I read I imagine what the visceral experience of living through this must have been like…
You’ve surely heard of the ice age, it was long and cold, an icy hell that our ancestors had to trudge through for countless millenniums.
But without that soul chilling cold we would not have us.
We would not have mathematics, architecture or literature. We would not have medicine and technology. We would not have philosophy or democracy. We would not have our cultural values of civility, justice and honor.
The cold presented an extraordinary evolutionary pressure, the cold was such an insidious and persistent assassin that only the fittest and cleverest individuals and tribes could avoid it’s deathly embrace.
- The long, cold winters punctuated by short summers forced our ancestors to think deeply and critically about the future — the primacy of planning ahead.
- Hunters made up for their relative frailty by fashioning weapons out of wood, bone and rock.
- Faced with the formidable and unrelenting foe of the cold they developed strict and disciplined systems of social hierarchy and duty.
- Many months out of the year would be spent doing nothing but shivering in a cave around a fire. This idle time gave the creative mind the opportunity to flourish; people learned to paint, sing, dance and tell stories. Some would ponder the nature of life, death and the stars.
I can just imagine the people living at that time probably had cultural histories reaching back several hundred, possibly several thousand years. All they knew knew was that they were a tribe destined to scrounge for a little bit of meat on Hoth.
And then inexplicably, it started getting warmer.
The summer got a little longer every year, the winter a little less tortuous every year. Old people were probably pessimistic and disbelieving that the world was becoming a more welcoming place to live whereas younger people might have had a deep sense of optimism about a warmer future.
As calories became more abundant and more and more of the climate skeptics died off our ancestors become a hopeful people. As the immediate threat of death by freezing diminished, men devoted their efforts towards noble pursuits of developing civilization.
Then a comet appeared in the sky…
A comet more brilliant than anyone could remember and it would punish them cruelly for their hope of a warmer world.
In a scene that would shame the latest Hollywood disaster porn flick rocky fragments of the comet streaked through our atmosphere and broke apart a giant ice sheet covering Canada and parts of northern Europe.
The Earth betrayed those who prayed for longer days and warmer summers when entire continents were transformed into storms of fire and ice; violent floods and tidal waves wiped out human settlements which were concentrated on the coasts, massive forest fires raged and oceans of mud rained down. The sun and heavens were blotted out by a dusty, overcast sky. It must have seemed like the whole universe was dying.
The cold returned with a vengeance.
Temperatures plummeted and did not rebound.
When the water from the great floods finally receded once rich pasturelands were transformed into barren rock strewn hellscapes.
Lush forests had been felled or transformed into ashes.
Fearsome megafauna that once provided much needed protein could no longer be found, even by the most tenacious hunter.
As our numbers dwindled the few survivors cursed the heavens for the cruel fate of being made to wander this barren graveyard of the former antediluvian land.
At one point there was perhaps as few as 50 humans surviving.
Generations came and went without even seeing the stars.
Despite the utter cruelty of life, people were motivated to get up and leave their caves in search of a little bit of sustenance.
A man’s life was a cauldron of suffering with a thin silver lining; the fleeting moments of sweaty passion he would have with his cavewoman in the flickering firelight.
This was like a WAY longer version of the Game of Thrones 10 year winter but instead of the dragons, riveting drama and epic sword fights there was boredom and hunger.
For over a thousand years of the Younger Dryas ice age, these poor souls waded through snow with leaky shoes and slipped and slided on icy paths, motivated to suffer through another winter by a glimmer of hope that it might get warm again like the legends of the past talked about.
Nobody remembers their names.
Nobody remembers their faces. Nobody remembers the songs they used to sing for good cheer while huddling around a fire in their caves. Nobody visits their graves. Nobody thanks them in their prayers. Nobody knows what their language sounded like. Nobody knows what they called themselves.
Don’t you wish you had a time machine and could show one of these forgotten sufferers the extraordinary lives of comfort and hedonism that we enjoy?
You could show them that all that suffering and striving that they went through actually paid off in an multitudinously better quality of life for their descendants.
Don’t you wish you could thank them for the hell they went through so you could live the charmed life you have?
Considering the extraordinary potential of the technology and medicine and the stupendous suffering and irrationality in the world, are we in a spiritual sense, not all that different from our ancestors?
Could the future be as drastic an improvement for those who come after us as the present is for those who came before us?
With our shivering ancestors in mind, what could you do that would be damned uncomfortable to advance towards your goals?
loadposition ArticleHeader} The Internet is making everyone stupid & that's a good thing! I just finished this book…
I just finished this book entitled, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. And you don’t need to read this book because the title says it all — your suspicions are correct, the Internet is NOT very good for our minds. Excessive internet use has a deleterious effect on 5 aspects of human intellect. In this article, I prescribe a working memory training regimen for countering it.
Yes, really! I know it sounds absurd, but hear me out.
Recipe for Grandeur
Recipe for Grandeur, Diet, Lifestyle, Language Acquisition, Brain Training, Supplementation, Social Dynamics, Apps…
A flowchart of the hundreds of articles on Limitless Mindset demystifying Biohacking and lifehacking.