Shifting Baseline Syndrome: We accept the world that we’re given as the norm.
What does this mean? If a species is already extinct or endangered, we see as normal because that’s all we’ve ever known. A month ago I went on a cruise and one moment was pretty memorable. I was sleeping on the deck and my friend, who was nowhere near me when I started sleeping, abruptly woke me to show me something on the side of the ship. As I followed him to the spot, a small crowd had already convened and was looking in amusement. When we get there, what is it? One, singular sea turtle. Swimming around in the distance, so far away I can barely even tell that it’s a sea turtle. Everyone looks amazed by the rarity of this spectacle as they ou and ah while taking blurry photos zoomed to the maximum on their cell phones that come out looking like a little yellowish green wart on the ass of a blue avatar in the sex scene we all know so well.
Why is this significant? Well, Just a couple hundred years ago, these sea turtles existed in such quantities we would consider them a blight. They would swim in billions and ships would get tossed around like salad. They were as common as we consider the pigeons to be. Can you even imagine our world without pigeons? those little devils that give you escalated fear while you’re walking down the street just because of the possibility that their poop will greet your head. You know those bastards know what they’re doing too, even if their brain is the size of a peanut, it’s got two functionalities: 1)Eat 2)basic physics – how fast they need to fly and when they need to release the dookie to hit you. You can walk but you can’t fly.
This made me really consider how many things are normal nowadays and we overlook them. Just one hundred years ago, did you realize that there were no paved roads? When you wanted to go somewhere, your first thought was, “How the heck are we going to get to this place” and nowadays we never think in hows but when. When will we be able to get there? Everything is radically accessible. All you need is time.
Additionally, in my industry a lot of people like to keep their moods high by practicing affirmations, aka, expressing things that they are thankful for. I joined this movement for a while and after a week, I realized that my affirmations were usually repetitive: family, health, roof to live under, etc. etc. Though it was good to be mindful of these things and focus on the positives, I was getting bored. One afternoon I’m having lunch with Walter, an appraiser I work with and I bring up the topic of affirmations and how it’s become mundane. Walter says, “Well, did you remember to thank the light switch?” Whachu talking bout Walter? I thought this old man was off his rocker but the next thing he said opened my mind to a new perspective. He said “Did you ever think about how you can flip a light switch with your finger and the light in your room comes on? Did you ever think that that there are thousands of people somewhere all working in order to make that convenience in your life?” Holy crap, he’s right. Just like the roads we drive on, there are so many hands at play for things we consider to be the norm. When life has you down, take some time to realize how lucky you are to be living in this time and not any other. I’ll leave you with Donald Glover as he breaks it down in one of my favorite skits. “This is the best time to be alive, EVER! Do you realize that just a couple hundred years ago, just a couple hundred years ago, people could come into your village, your community, whatever you want to call it. People could just come in there, a bunch of them: kill you, rape your wife, sell your kids into slavery and you’d be like, ‘Well, what’d you expect, it’s night time.'”