Seven Billion Human Years

Yesterday morning I was standing in my kitchen thinking about last year. I was thinking of our collective trauma in dealing with the covid pandemic and then the epidemic of the stupid that deny covid, don’t believe in mask or vaccines, and can’t understand how viruses work because they don’t believe in evolution. Then I thought there are as many stories of 2020 as there are people on the planet. Finally I realized that if we have light years to measure distance then we can measure the human experience in human years and each year is really seven billion different years.

I forgot this by the time I sat down to write last night. It was frustrating. I wanted to remember what I had forgotten but couldn’t. This morning I remembered it. It branched off of another thought on how impossible it is to gain any real knowledge in one human lifetime. We have one life to live and can do so little in it. It is impossible to not leave things undone. Our collective experiences are much more powerful than any single life time because with just one other person we can double our experiences.

Then tonight I saw a post claiming that the average person can read 4600 books in their lifetime. I broke it down in several ways. First that is a 59 book a year pace assuming a person lives to the average expected age of 77 and was read to as a child. It also requires a person to read roughly two hours a day every single day of their lives, and that is to read 4600 books.

It is estimated that there are close to 130,000,000 books in the world with more coming out each week. It is impossible for any one person to finish this in their lifetime, but if everyone in just the United States read one book we could read them all in less than a year and would need less than half the total population. Now we would have to share that information somehow and that would be difficult to do in a timely manner and a one paragraph summary of every book ever written wouldn’t be the best, but it might be the closest we could do to getting as much knowledge as possible.

Our lives are so small. We are a spec to both time and space. Our lives are a blip in the lifetime of the universe and the amount of space we inhabit is nothing. If we can devise a way to better share our experiences with our fellow humans we could, in theory, experience seven billion years in one.

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