Mendoza, Argentina

June 5, 2016

Looking up.

I was sitting on my couch here, watching videos of how watches are made (recovering from the inevitable flu that comes with moving to the other side of the world), when I looked up at my apartment.

All at once, it hit me.

Every single thing I could see - every one - was designed by a person just like me.
They'd spent weeks worrying about the curve of the chair, how chunky the legs on the table should be, how much pressure it should take to flip the light switch.

Another person - people, most likely - had built each object I was staring it. The more complex ones, like the space heater in the corner, had been through dozens of hands, assembling expertises in things like circuitboards, metalworking, glass, and whatever the job is where you know all about heating coils.

At any stage in that process, things could have gone even slightly wrong - someone having a bad day - and the whole thing would fall apart, break, or catch fire. But they didn't.

Looking around me room, each object told a story of delicate and improbable beauty. It existed, beautiful, functional, against all the odds and the entropy of the universe.

And each one - every single thing I could see - could trace its origin back to a set of human hands, just like mine, pulling, bending, pressing, and tracing.

Each part - the wooden legs of the chair, the plastic coating on the hanging lamp wire - could trace back an individual story of its origin. That forest. That oil well.

I sat, in that moment, with my mouth just hanging open. Here, in the room with me, were pieces of tree and rock and metal and oil from all over the world, delicately wrangled into chairs, tables, countertops, light. By people just like us.

Look up from your screen. See what you see.

Have a wonderful week,

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw all week wasn't a thought-provoking piece on the future of humanity. Nope, it was the story of a man, his cat, and an abandoned baby squirrel that had fallen off the roof. Oh yes, it includes baby squirrel pictures. :)

Enjoy this letter? Tell a friend.