Recently, at a conference, I heard Michael Wesch speak. He started his talk by summarizing the history of humankind.
His abridged version started 12,000 years ago. Each step he took across the stage represented 500 years of time. I don't remember exactly how he broke down the various stages of our development but one thing he said stuck with me.
The ability to ask questions about why we are here, what we are doing, and what we are meant to do is a recent phenomenon. Before that we, the human race, has been so focused on just surviving that we did not have time to be reflective.
Now we can ask questions like these:
1. Who am I?
2. What am I going to do?
3. Am I going to be able to make a difference?
Now our life is theoretically secure. For those of us fortunate enough to live in a developed country, and for many in the developing world, life is not about existing day-to-day. Instead, we can concentrate on asking ourselves bigger questions.
The ironic part of asking ourselves these big questions is that we recognize that we have time to ask the questions but we also recognize that at times there are no answers to the questions.
And suddenly we are not so secure.