I've always maintained that human history is more process than personality. This would seem to contradict my assertion that our species has a dire need of individuality, but I think the two are complimentary, indeed. For the process to work there needs to be those humans who, through happenstance or deliberation, recognize when destiny has opened a door wide enough for us all to rush through, or be dragged through kicking and screaming.
I got into a long and heated debate one night with a friend of mine who asserted that without Edison, or Bell, or Elvis, there would be no Edison, or Bell, or Elvis. Ah, but I claim that someone, maybe much later would have invented the light bulb, and without Edison standing in the way, and claiming DC was the way to go, Tesla's AC idea would have been implemented much sooner. Bell's patent on the telephone was filed two hours before another very much like it. Elvis, if you're wonder how he managed his way into this conversation, thank you very much, was one of the first products of mass marketing. I claim it had very little to do with music or voice, or even personality, but it was part of a process where a Mississippi boy was washed away by something that was going to happen to someone, eventually anyway.
Okay, let me try to put this all together for you. As a whole, humanity acts more as a wave than a stream. Individuals act as overflow from the pool, cutting new channels, but there has to be that mass, that momentum, from the rest of the river. Don't ever discount the idea that we humans are very much the same as water. We're seventy percent of the stuff by mass, you know.
Somewhere in our past was the first sailor. There was that one person with the idea that water could be navigated, and he set forth to get from point A to point B using a log, a tangle of wood, or maybe a real raft. Someone in our past rigged the first sail, and that is very likely a turning point of a magnitude of a stunning proportion. Can you imagine what that must have looked like to other humans there? Here is this one human with an animal hide tied to a pole on a raft and he's cruising across the river without paddling, poling, pushing, or anything else known to mankind. He's grinning and waving at the others and they're having a fit watching this. That story would get told around the campfire forever. Some would have to see it for themselves. Others, when they did see it, swore that no good would come of it, and it ought to be stopped. What right does man have to be across a river without earning through his own labor, the Grumblers would ask. There are always those too, you know, and they play their part.
The Grumblers almost always get left behind. The first humans to tame fire were likely confronted with one of their own who swore that stuff couldn't be trusted, and fire inside of a cave just couldn't be more dangerous. That guy was likely toted off by a tiger because the rest of the humans were inside the cave with the fire, and he wouldn't get near the damn thing. That happens a lot too, you know, the Grumblers being toted off by tigers and all.
What I'm not saying is that all things great and small are inevitable. Likely, there have been artists greater than any we've known who died young, were forced into labor unrelated to their craft, or whose works were destroyed. Likely, there have been inventors whose masterpieces have likewise been lost to us all for similar reasons. Certainly, there have been great human minds wiped out by happenstance, and the Grumblers have donned their share of religious garb to worship the gods of status quo just to burn at the stake those who dared suggest that the status quo wasn't god. That happens a lot too, you know, the Grumblers are still pissed off about the tiger thing.
Yet do you truly believe, I asked my friend, without that first sailor we would still be landlocked? Would the sail had never been invented or was it, like fire, merely a discovery whose time had come? Going back in time, do you not see that written language was inevitable, poetry was going to happen, and it was just a matter of time before we were all here, maybe not now, but here, and at our very fingertips, literally, the ways and means to express our ideas to other humans, in seconds?
Here there be tigers, and fire, and Grumblers, and waves, and currents, and sails and us. We here, now, get to decide who and what we are, and what this place will be. Someone undiscovered, like wind and fire, may be that person who just commented on your last effort. Someone who will one day stun the world with genius may at this very moment have written a simple poem of love, and not one soul has noticed. It is all here with us, all of history, all of the future, all of the here, and all of the now. These are incredibly exciting times to create, to breathe into life what our minds do imagine. You can cross that river. You can hold at bay that beast. You can breech that dam, unleash that torrent, and you can, if you simply choose to do so, write.