Lydia

I sense a wave of emotion throughout the world. A fear of death on the personal level, mixed with a perverse almost universal belief that somehow the world as it is now is permanent, the much superior version of everything that ever went before. A world that is destined to last forever.

It really isn’t worth even trying to argue with people who feel that way. As individual humans, we should accept death as the end of birth, as opposed to stagnation. I’m pretty sure Queen even did a song on this universal question of “Who Wants to Live Forever”. Yet, people right now are in a state of paralysis about death and have convinced themselves, with the help of mainstream media, that living forever is a desirable state of affairs and more so, that it is somehow attainable. More on the uploading of the contents of the human mind to digital media another day, perhaps, but clearly these people never absorbed true message of the film Death Becomes Her, which now reads like a foreboding warning of what happens when you sell your soul, as opposed to the clever comedy it seemed back in 1992. Meanwhile, it helps increase the pathos when their 80-year-old relative, confined to a wheelchair and suffering from all kinds of ailments, gets taken away by the dreaded Covid Lurgy…or so the doctor put on the death certificate, anyway. So young, taken away before their time. How many times have you heard or read those words this past year? I’d put that along with died after a sudden illness as one of the most popular phrases of 2021, behind you’re on mute and other such online meeting frivolities.

On the universal level, meanwhile, everyone is convinced that the way of life we have arisen to now is somehow better and superior in every way to that which went before and that we can somehow beat the celestial forces, good and bad, that have bound us for millenia.

We can’t.

I wonder how the Lydians felt a few thousand years ago, as they wandered around their cities and provinces, gazing upon their achievements of civilisation, which included the first ever recorded coinage – cast in gold and silver, of course, and the first ever known fixed shops anywhere in the world, ever. Life must’ve seemed wonderful, an achievement of civilisation that could never end. Yet, let’s just take a look at Lydia now…

File:Tripolis on the Meander, Lydia, Turkey (19492900512).jpg
Lydia – The birthplace of coinage

I’ve wandered around quite a few of these ancient Mediterranean sites, once teeming cities and towns, of sizes comparable or greater than what we live in today. It’s a sight to behold and yet few historians ever ask the real question – how did it happen? Another example of how history is written by the victors, since it seems a valid assumption that the people living through the apocalyptii (okay the real plural is apocalypses, but it feels real) never found the time to put pen to paper, chisel to stone or ink to papyrii to record these happenings. Too busy fighting over the scraps for their survival. It’s another small step to then think that none of those people could ever have imagined that some day their cities would become this, yet they do and it can happen in record time.

I am reminded of the Greek word Hubris – the excessive pride that occurs just before a major fall. You can see it everywhere, once you open your eyes beyond the mobile phone screen in front of you. Meanwhile, I’ll just go have a listen to this…

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