Following the trail of our personal origin it’s thought provoking to track a pedigree stemming thousands of years. A family tree highlights the prosperity a bloodline has encountered hitherto, although the perils afflicting pre-modern societies are known, people seldom ruminate on the great fortune of finding themselves, through pure contingency, alive. Neglecting the fortuitousness of existence many find themselves cursing the Gods over trifling matters, drawing unnecessary gravity to a situation and slicing an already open wound.
Community life has depreciated over the past centuries by a capitalistic desire for opulence, prompting a rise in self-centeredness. In certain areas a high distribution of wealth has lead people to the undesirable feeling of inferiority, denoting less value to their life due to possessing limited material. If becoming preoccupied by troubles it can be stirring to consider the adversity previous generations had to confront to ensure one’s existence today; not every lineage lasted, but contingently yours has.
Looking Backwards, Going Forwards
Contemplating humans as the product of millions of years of evolution evokes thought of the confluent snafu of life, each epoch bearing their own battles. Placing personal difficulty onto a large-scale perspective can surge strength in times of struggle, juxtaposing current issues with that of previous periods one can see how fortunate they really are.
The nomadic hunter gathers had to travel far and wide to ensure survival through the capture of prey, whilst dwelling in caves they had to always be prepared for imminent departure if an area’s fruitfulness began to dry. Furthering along the evolutionary track agricultural dominance created a shift in lifestyle, basic tools assisting in vegetating the fertile land.
These predecessors had to be constantly ready for combat, whether from a predator or rival tribe, precautionary measures had to ensure the durability of their new home. Different tribes settled in particular locations and small communities catalysed the birth of civilization, new lodging made life that extra bit easier yet not without war, diseases and natural calamities, the plights upon humans didn’t cease with ‘improved’ living standards.
We may not have the dire problems of previous generations but we also don’t have the sense of community our progenitors had, an integral element to their survival. In the contemporary world people face new problems scarcely seen at this intensity, perils such as addiction and depression are wreaking havoc on the mind with the pressure to be or make oneself a particular archetype weighing over many.
As society excels at looking forward there is rare reflection on the human pedigree’s passage, yet, it’s auspicious to remember life has not always existed this way and the past can offer inspiration for the future.
The Changing Process
The incessant innovation of tools has accompanied humanity’s advancement. Aiding to solve society’s persistent problems, human ingenuity draws out a desire to make life easier. When problems are resolved they are often denoted issues of the past, yet, it isn’t long before analogous or divergent difficulties rear their head and new strategies are required. This cycle means humanity perpetually undergoes an upgrading process, replacing old ideas with novel information.
With reality continually changing it can be hard for certain individuals to keep up and feel relevant in society. The dynamic nature of civilization allows people to find a befitting place within a community, but have it abruptly ripped away due to the shifting landscape, e.g. the dismantling of a political regime, financial crisis, passing fad. It can be burdensome for some who’ve invested vast amounts of time and effort in a particular field to find their efforts redundant; when expectation doesn’t coalesce with reality, habitually, a crisis of character follows.
Having events transpire contrarily to aspiration is an inescapable aspect of the human experience, of the many quests undertaken all will have obstacles requiring fortitude to overcome. One may not be able to control circumstance but can harness the power to regulate judgement; when shaped optimistically adversities can be seen as necessary growing pains.
Imagining the troubles besieging previous generations can help put hardship into perspective, although predicaments vary significantly, one’s existence has relied upon ancestral efforts of perseverance.
It can be easy to become perturbed in an ever-changing world, if individual life begins to feel insignificant it can be inspiring to consider the pure contingency in being alive: thousands of years of good fortune has led to one’s present existence. In a self-orientated society it has be hard to not let personal issues mentally exacerbate, but, remembering the resilience of your ancestors fighting for both your survival, life’s tribulations can be put into an illuminated perspective.
Image Source: Galerie Bilderwelt, 1944/Peter Macdiarmid, 2014/Getty Images