Mandarin Chinese doesn’t have a word for “yes.” They instead repeat the inquisitive preceding verb. (“Did you eat today?” “I ate.”) The Ancient Romans, likewise, lacked a word for “yes.” Abraham Lincoln is older than the concept of the doorknob. The novel has existed as a literary device for only 300 or so years. And most of today’s teenagers can’t imagine a word without the Internet. Imagine what the world will look like tomorrow.
Of course, within the timespan of an 80-year human life, these changes all seem fairly momentous. But within the context of human history, none of them are longer than a blink. If homo sapiens have roamed the earth for 100,000 years, then we’ve recorded only the most recent 3% of our past experiences. Imagine how many empires rose and fell.
Within the context of our lives, none of this particularly matters. On first glance. For within the next 100, 200 years, all of this will be different. None of our conventions will matter anymore. They have to change at some point. Our most sacred institutions can evaporate in the blink of an eye. Government, internet, driving, shoes, shirts, sitting while eating, democracy, music, film … the list goes on.
If I lived each day like it was devoid of convention, what might that change?