My contemporaries and I are living in one of the most astonishing periods of human history. When I, a school child living on a farm in the American mid-west, first learned the world had at that time three cities with more than a million people (New York, London, Mexico City), I was so staggered by the information I suddenly recognized the inadequacy of my imagination. Just to count out loud to a million would take a long time.
I have just read a bit about a book called The World in 2050 by Laurence C. Smith with this mind-blowing information: "The world is now more urban than rural, and the century of the megacity
has begun. In 1950, there were two cities with a population of more
than ten million. By 1975, there were three. As of 2007, there were
nineteen, and by 2025, the United Nations estimates that there will be
twenty-seven. There are ninety cities in China alone that have a
population of greater than one million."
The picture above is Tokyo, the world's largest megacity -- as of this writing. These vast cities will continue to grow. Nearly all of them are in the northern hemisphere. The people who were born in these cities -- and will be born into them in the future, cannot produce their own food or water or clothe themselves without involvement with the world of technology and manufacturing. They will be affected by natural phenomena: heat, cold, storms (which are already killing more and more hundreds when they hit). These new generations have more in common with worker ants than they do with farmers like my father and mother who grew a large percentage of their food, who had artesian wells and cisterns for water, who sheltered in a house constructed by my father and his cousins.
As a reader of novels and poetry I think how meaningless will be "I wandered lonely as a cloud," or "I will arise now and go to the Isle of Inisfree," or the road in the woods that diverged and I chose the lesser used one. Psychologically, referentially, people will be divorced from nature. The political implications are enormous, in fact, staggering. And the economics of feeding all these people ... Oh, my ... and I thought my imagination was inadequate 60 years ago!
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!