I ran into three people I know in the span of six miles while riding my bike last evening. What are the chances of that, especially with many people staying home because of you, know, the thing? Well, I’ve been in Austin, Texas for 20 years and 16 days. So I have met plenty of people in that time. These three encounters got me to thinking about acquaintances, friends, colleagues, bona fides – in short, the other humans who comprise my community. At a time when the fabric of society is being shredded, while some people sew face masks, what does it mean to be homo sapiens? As George Costanza put it in a Seinfeld episode, “We’re living in a society, here!”
The first in my trio of random encounters was with a fellow volunteer with Bike Austin, who lives around here somewhere. She was a follower of this blog and may still be. It was nice to see her out on a bike ride with a mask, which like mine was down since we were far enough apart. She asked how I was and I asked her the same; she’s well, doing her job, but from home. We parted and wished each other well.
A mysterious disease has ravaged Planet Earth’s once-dominant species, Homo sapiens, wiping out hundreds of millions. Survivors pick up the pieces and begin a movement for a new society. Fossil fuels and internal combustion engines ceased to exist. Even electric cars were no more. The much vaunted high technology — which many people worshiped as an omnipotent deity — mostly failed. A huge electromagnetic pulse triggered by financial and staffing meltdowns decimated the electrical grid.
Humans had no choice but to return to a mostly agrarian existence, as nature began to reclaim the silent concrete in cities. Park land, rooftops and abandoned big box stores were harnessed to grow food. In order to survive, humans had to unlearn many of their modern, urban bad habits. They learned how to live in harmony with the land, sea and skies which they had raped, pillaged and burned for so long in a greedy chase of profits and wealth. Cooperation and collaboration were the new ethos. Unsurprising to those who had been riding them, bicycles became the primary form of transport.