“I have to run, they’re closing the beaches, this is the last time I can go.” So ended one conversation this week.
How do you live when the future cannot be predicted with certainty?
That’s the way we live now.
Actually, it’s true all the time. What happens when a truck jackknifes across the highway, the one way you might get to our meeting on time?
You find another way around.
Functionally, that’s how biological intelligence works.
A virus comes into your nose. It’s recognized as something different, probably never seen before.
Natural killer cells, upped fortuitously by sunlight, may go on the attack. So will a large cascade of highly varied immune responses. Through “somatic hypermutation,” literally forced evolution, millions to billions of different immunoglobulin proteins will be randomly generated to see what sticks to the viral surface. Those few that seem to work will rapidly be made in gigantic numbers, trying to neutralize the new bug. The process is continually refined, with many different types of immune cells and reactions working together. How it’s coordinated we don’t know, but it appears to follow a huge set of Bayesian probabilities which nearly four billion years of evolution has worked out.
In variable terms, if x, then y. If s, then z. The world shifts, so do I.
These are days to work along the lines of biological intelligence. If the highway is blocked, what about the side roads? If they’re blocked, is there another way cross country? If I can’t get to where I need to be, can I engage in the meeting via phone? At the very least can I let them know I’m not coming, and what my main concerns are?
Until you find out you’re in a dead zone, and your phone doesn’t work.
These are the kinds of challenges people will now commonly experience. Our usual responses may not work. We’ll come up with different ones. As in NYC, where “routine” medical issues are now dealt with online and by phone. It’s not ideal, but you make it work as best you can.
So this is the time to think contingently, of creating provision for nearly certain uncertainty. When events and activities that one takes for granted no longer exist, others will replace them. And especially at a time like now, looking very far ahead may not prove psychologically wise. Living day by day might be a better idea at present.
When the world changes a lot every day, we change with it. That’s what our bodies, our biology, are built to do.