You probably didn’t notice much of it until after it happened. That is to say you noticed it, but now you are somewhat struck by it.
Sprinklers came on every morning, right on schedule.
Your neighbor walked his two dogs up the block, and back down the block; their little dachshund legs trotted at what seemed to be 100 times faster than their owner’s.
The local coffee shop was filled with folks. A few older customers actually talked to one another. Most people’s noses were stuck in a device, headphones on. The only real cacophony came from behind the counter as workers swiftly created milkshakes with a shot of espresso in it.
The train arrived, then people flowed out of it onto the platform and onto the street. They were headed someplace specific. You didn’t know where they were all going, but you knew they were going to an exact longitude and latitude and they had to be there at a certain time. Their gait suggested purpose and resolve.
Friends would look at the news online, browsing through Pulse, Flipboard or any of a million other data aggregators, and weigh in with morning comments on all things political and cultural. You noticed happy birthday wishes and could tell immediately who their real “friends” were.
Maybe you walked by an actual television at some point. The largely cliché and eternally cherry anchors greeted each other with faux smiles before launching into familiar accounts of local thuggery, bedlam and carnage.
You might have noticed a Google traffic map showing the choke points of the commute, or you heard a radio or TV reporter deliver the latest examples of motor vehicle operator error wrecking it for everybody else.
What made it worse was the behavior of the people in your own home. Whether they were children or adults, they too moved with purpose and momentum. They had things to do, people to see and places to go.
Not you. Not on this day.
You lost your job a few days ago.
The world didn’t stop and take notice.
What happened to you a few days ago throttled back your daily routine and momentum. It was just last week that you were that woman pouring out of the train. You were that guy in the coffee shop reading Flipboard. You walked with purpose, like the rest of them.
Today, they all had somewhere to go, or so it seemed.
Even the sprinklers were on schedule.
The world didn’t stop and take notice of what happened to you. It might have seemed that you were the only human in your universe who didn’t have anywhere to go and nothing to do. You told yourself that you were an insignificant cog in the corporate wheel and your job vaporizing didn’t stop the CEO from buying a 100 dollar bottle of wine at the restaurant tonight. It didn’t stop anyone from altering their path. You were a pebble tossed into the pond, and your ripples didn’t capsize any vessels. The waves were too faint, too gentle. There are 7 billion people on earth and everyone was on the move and even the local panhandlers were posted up at their regular street corners and you had nothing.
They took it away from you, your purpose, your raison d’etre. They all have it and you don’t.
The world keeps turning for a reason. The planet is not done existing yet. It still has an atmosphere, gravity, a sun and a moon. The earth hasn’t completed its ultimate destiny. It still has a lot of stuff to do. We are polluting her, damaging her infrastructure, trampling on all her good intentions, yet she is resilient.
The world keeps spinning because she has not exhausted her options yet.
Neither have you.
John Scott is the National Online Learning Coordinator and a media history instructor at the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University, San Francisco. He also counsels clients and groups on the art of reinvention. His debut book Broken Glass and Barbed Wire will be released soon. Follow John on Twitter @johnscottsf.