A little perspective.
In the year 748 AD, if you wanted to read a book, an honest-to-God book, with words in it and maybe a story … you had to be one of the fifty literate people within 500 miles. Then you had to trade something or sell something to get the book (which probably took some illiterate monks up to 2 years to copy for you). A sizable tract of land might do, or a prized war-horse, or possibly your second daughter. Then you would have: a book. One book.
It is the year 2013 AD. You have Wikipedia. You have Google. You have streaming TV and movies with low-cost memberships. If you’re into ebooks, you can buy a kindle for $79, spend an hour loading it up with 100 free classics of great literature, and you have your own library, a little larger than a wallet. If you’re not into ebooks, you can probably get a good story to read for a few dollars at your local used bookstore. Or, for free, you can visit the public library and be surrounded by more books than the total number of people that your ancestors in 748 AD saw in their entire lives.
That ought to be awe-inspiring.
Really step back and consider that for a moment.
You can afford … unlimited stories. Even if you’re broke and can’t afford FOOD, you can afford unlimited stories. You are the only generation in human history that can make such a boast.
Take a moment and think about just how incomparably wealthy and lucky and blessed that makes you.
Your ancestor of 748 AD might have been willing to sell one of his family into slavery in order to purchase the smallest literary crumb from your table.
You ought to be awed.
No matter what tragedies are besieging your life, whether financial, medical, or other … this is something to be awed about. This is something worth sitting back for a moment and thinking, “Wow.”
I am thankful to be alive and literate in such a time. We have a lot to deal with in this century, and it’s damned scary. But this…our free or low-cost access to unlimited stories…this is our biggest Wow.
Stant Litore is a novelist. He writes about gladiators on tyrannosaurback, Old Testament prophets battling the hungry dead, geneticists growing biological starships, time-traveling hijabi bisexual defenders of humanity from the future. Explore his fiction here. And here is one of his toolkits for writers, and here’s another book where he nerds out about ancient languages and biblical (mis)translation. Enjoy!