“There is no decency or sense in honoring one thing, or a few things and then closing the list. The pine tree, the leopard, the Platte River, and ourselves — we are at risk together, or we are on our way to a sustainable world together. We are each other’s destiny.”
— Mary Oliver, Upstream
We live in an age of miracles.
One morning, sitting in a restaurant in a Denver suburb, I had a wonderful meal. Shredded beef short rib, seasoned perfectly, served under an egg and covered by an excellent green chili. Music played overhead — a soulful, bluesy piece by B.B. King. While I savored the meal, I read a novel that I’d downloaded to my phone, paused to arrange a Christmas purchase with my mom, and talked with my daughter in Guatemala, my sisters, and Karin in Maryland — all via text.
After breakfast, I popped into a drugstore and got an immunization to prevent influenza. I replenished my travel kit with a toothbrush and razor before taking a beautiful, blustery walk in one of my favorite Denver parks. Then I drove to the airport and boarded a plane that, as I wrote this, carried me to Minnesota and North Dakota, where I shared my expertise with people who need it. Then I visited a friend of many years.
Every one of my experiences on this day was once the exclusive experience of royalty or would have been viewed as devilish wizardry not so long ago. A meal assembled from spices gathered from around the world? World-class music played by one of the best? Near-instant communication with loved ones? A quick shot to prevent an illness that killed millions before we learned the power of vaccinations (something that seems even more miraculous these days)? Two hours of travel to make a trip that would have taken a week or two, weather permitting?
Your experience today was exclusive to royalty not long ago.
It’s not just that these things exist. It’s the people who make them happen.
How many people were involved in creating this single day? The number must be in the hundreds of thousands.
The people who grew the food I ate. Who cooked it. Who built the restaurant. Who engineered and built the electrical and natural gas systems that powered the restaurant. Who worked…