So there were these people from long ago who basically led seemingly very unexciting and mostly uneventful lives, or at least it appears that way. Every now and then there was the occasional conflict, maybe a tribal feud, a battle over territorial rights, perhaps a minor war even, but mostly there were huge gaps of sometimes even decades between one recorded event and the next. During these long gaps these people mostly were peaceful shepherds. Nomads on a vast and seemingly endless horizon. Yet even then not many strayed far from the place of their birth or where their family had dwelled for generations before. They had flocks of goats, sheep, maybe even camels or some horses. Really very primitive and pedestrian compared to our present day. There was technology of sorts yes, but nothing compared to what we know of now-a-days. Attention to detail was probably exclusively centred around weather patterns and the well-being of their flocks, you know, ticks, fleas, hoof-rot and finding adequate grazing and water and also preparing for the dry periods or cold winter times when natural provisions from the land were usually far less plentiful.
They lived mostly in tents or possibly in natural shelters like caves. Occasionally they established villages or cities but this was not often and usually only when circumstance really dictated the need. They lived with no running water other than the occasional river or brook and no mechanised ablution systems. A stroll just outside of nose, eye and ear-shot with a bundle of dry leaves sufficed it seems. Times were tough in some ways perhaps but it was all they knew and there’s no significant record of any consumer complaints for inadequate or untimely service delivery.
It seems as if their major value was life itself. Prosperity was measured in terms of new life and the health and abundance thereof. Children were a blessing worthy of the highest joy and celebration as were the offspring of their livestock. Wealth was measured in years lived and the simple yet profound fruits of the living body – whether that body was human or animal or the earth itself. They were born, lived, gave birth and then they died. There is seemingly very little evidence of 2, 5, or even 10 year plans, neither the need for annual vacations or retirement. To hand the riches of experience and close-knit company to their offspring was more than enough, a celebration in and of itself.
As for me, I have traveled more in one day than most of these ancients did in their entire lifetime. My personal environment is so advanced compared to theirs that from their point of view it would most probably seem like unfounded, fictitious fantasy of the highest order. More has happened to me in a few short years than has happened in an entire lifetime with them. I know more, I have access to almost everything I desire and amazingly most of it is attainable if I truly put my mind to it although the vast majority of the world are living way under the most very basic of subsistence levels. To add to this my days are cluttered by all manner of things, plans, procedures and activities that mostly will not last longer than a few short years if I am lucky. It seems I am on call 24/7 to and from people and things, most of which I have no real relationship with at all.
My life expectancy is higher, yes, this is true, but only due to the medical technology and artificial chemicals pumped into my body over generations and the way our modern age has developed machines to keep alive those who should have died and kill those who should be living. What I can look forward to is leaving behind for my offspring a totally disposable world that has exponentially reducing sustainability and no real hope of a livable future … yet we celebrate our achievements and even regard ourselves as the most enlightened, educated, sophisticated and technologically advanced generation to have ever lived on earth.
Maybe I’m just an incurable romantic, disenchanted with the life we now lead and consequently doomed to wander restlessly in search of ever illusive meaning and peace, forever looking for those paths that lead elsewhere? Maybe I am simply dwelling in a past I don’t or really cannot ever begin to fully understand and therefore wishing on futile, vain fantasy? Perhaps I am totally deceived? And perhaps there are some of those out there who lay claim to know who they are, where they are going, what they believe, and what this all is about? I have no fight with these people, but I also have no envy of them.
I do have a nagging thought that won’t leave me though.
The thought that disturbs me personally is that these ancient, primitive, uneducated people I write about, … their names are recorded in the ancient texts which have survived in some form to this very day. They have a powerful legacy and their story, though primitive, possibly overly simplified and mostly culturally veiled and vague lives on, and will most probably live on for as long as mankind is around.
Their names are written down in the sacred scriptures.
My name is not.