Modern Life: A Perspective (from an Insider!)

His computer keyboard at work was a living, festering, pulsating, ecosystem composed of various species of bacteria, mites and other miniature nasty’s – feasting on the crumbs from last week’s lunches and breakfast’s and the calorie laden oily deposits from his fingertips…

As he sat at his tidy office desk filling in boxes with numbers on a Excel Spreadsheet – he wondered where it had all gone wrong. Was this what he had imagined adulthood life would be like when he was still at school?

He stared at the screen, at the white rectangular boxes and the figures inside them, and the various buttons at the top with their myriad functions: ‘cut and paste’, ‘sum of’, ‘formulas’, ‘decimal places’, ‘Save as’ ‘percentages’ – and as the air conditioner unit droned above his head, he wondered whether when life first started out on earth – whether this was what it would have wanted to be doing…four billion years later…

When our ancestors crawled out of the Devonian ocean 385 million years ago…was this where they were headed? Did they imagine that their descendants would be staring at Excel Spreadsheets?

He was undoubtedly related to the first pioneers that crawled out of the oceans but now as he stared at the boxes he wished they’d stayed put. Oh yes! They should have stayed the fuck in the water! He had vivid daydreams about going back in time to that seminal moment 365 million years ago and grabbing those first slippery fishy pioneers as they ventured onto land, and throwing them back into the water and saying:

‘Don’t bother guys. You’re much better off in the oceans. You don’t wanna come on Land. Land is dull. Land is boring. There is no career in land. Land has no future’

But he knew that would never work. In the words of Jurassic Park: ‘life always finds a way’.

He continued to stare at the screen, at the rectangular boxes – maybe he was in some dream or computer simulation and if he stared long enough, he might just see the screen twitch a little, confirming he was inside The Matrix. But the screen did not twitch and the air conditioner continued to drone above.

He closed his eyes and imagined himself sitting on an aeroplane heading to the East. The steady drone of the engines, confidently, assuredly, taking him someplace better. Someplace different. Someplace him. He imagined the window to his left streaked by clouds, the blue sky above where Space lies, the ‘Fasten your Seat-belt’ sign lit green, the lavatory sign saying ‘Unoccupied’ – and the miles beneath him, stretching behind him like distant memories.

He opened his eyes…slowly. No he wasn’t on an aeroplane. Instead they settled on the coffee mug that read: Congratulations! 5 years at xxxxxx Ltd.

Why did he hate that cup so much now? He recalled at the time feeling a smidgen of proudness when he received it. The people around him – His boss thanking him – The cake – His colleagues clapping.

His eyes now fell on his tidy desk. The black stapler – like a million other clones just like it. The hole punch, like a million other clones just like it. His calendar, his pen, the pad, the keyboard – all like a million other clones. And him – like a million other clones just like him.

Was he not special?

He remembered feeling special when he was young, where had all that specialness gone?

The Monday morning meetings were the worst. He’d spend the time doodling and thinking about research ideas for his book whilst the meeting droned on:

‘so we have the balance sheet reviews to complete this Friday, with supports attached please…’

[Him thinking] ‘…the Denisovans were another species of Hominids that lived side by side with humans and Neanderthals in Siberia and the East 50,000 years ago…I wonder how that worked out?’

…’attach the bank confirmation to the reconciliation please and the invoices….’

[Him thinking] ‘…well clearly it hadn’t worked out because the Denisovans were killed, but interestingly the genome of a Denisovan had been sequenced from a bone fragment and when compared to humans was fond that 5% of it was present in modern human Australasian aborigine and Melanesian populations…but not in any other human groups in Europe or Asia or Africa…’

‘…change the description of payable to ‘Payable for May’…’

[Him thinking] ‘…and only 25 gene changes separated the Denisovans from modern humans. Only a  few changes were required to get to modern humans…’

‘embryology is a complex process, a small change downstream can have major impact upstream…he wondered whether it had been a good thing, these few mutations, that gave rise to modern humans…

‘…Can you post the accrual journals for travel expenses, make sure they go to the correct cost code…’

‘the correct cost code’ – the words started ringing in his ears.

He wondered whether it had been worth it. The countless extinctions, countless famines, wars and human suffering, the fears and pains that have visited the earth on one side of the scale, and the pleasures of human existence on the other – the contemplation of the heavens, the pleasures of philosophy and science and finding things out – the joy of discovery and the fruits of hard labour, the joys of romantic love and those of blissful union – and so the trials and tribulations of heart-ache and unrequited love…the poverty of the masses, the daily grind, dreams realised and dreams thwarted.

He wondered why people put up with this. Put up with the droll routine. Perhaps they lack imagination? If they had imagination wouldn’t they be doing something else?

Like what?

Like writing this stuff for example!

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