When I lived in Europe we liked to visit open-air museums, where we could walk through ancient farms still smelling of the hay and wood smoke from hundreds of years ago. A display showed me how limited diets were–how people ate boiled grains for two meals a day, for months on end, and how they endured famines whenever the crops failed. I imagine my ancestors must have thought, “God, wouldn’t it be great if we had different things to eat, and if we would never go hungry anymore, but would have a regular, dependable food source?” They must have all wished for that.
And now, here we are, in this country, assembled from immigrants from those rough places, now able to eat foods from all over the globe at any time, have them delivered to us like royalty, able to dependably eat our fill.
People in the past must have dreamed of changes that would allow experiences and objects to become more fluid, easier to obtain, or more colorful, less dangerous, more fulfilling, more playful, healthier. They would be astonished at the realities their desperate wishes had catalyzed and ripened to fruition. Who would have imagined three hundred years ago that now we can marry according to love, wear the sort of clothes we want to, give birth to live babies without dying, keep animals that we needn’t kill for nourishment, watch stories acted out right in front of us, listen to music from around the world…not just from a manky fiddle player at a harvest festival once a year, but all the time, and any tune, old or new?
And sure, much of what we enjoy now has its edge, its unintended consequences, the shadow downsides that require further wishing to put right.
But imagine how people right now are wishing for changes that their descendants will take for granted. Every earnest wish: Why can’t it be like this? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had powerful energy systems that didn’t deplete earth’s resources? Wouldn’t it be great if the oceans were clean? Wouldn’t it be awesome if a person’s native talents were recognized and nurtured early on and nobody had to scrabble to get by and work at jobs they hate in order to experience abundance and ease?
I believe these things we earnestly want to make a better world, once thought of, end up in the cauldron of creation, and once cooked in they become real and furnish us with experiences our ancestors could only dream of. Every beautiful change starts with just a thought.