Democritus and the January Sales.
Everything is formed from atomic collisions, Democritus said, and everything is interrelated. His ideas seem astonishingly modern and I keep wondering why he is not better known. This interrelation between everything that happens I find quite haunting. It is as if the universe is diffused with something like spider web and everything we do, everything that happens, sets the spider web vibrating in a new and unique way. Every breath, every movement causes the world to change. Most of the time it is just slight and inconsequential, but just occasionally I suppose it can be catastrophic.
Today, for instance, I got up early for the sales. It was strange shopping before dawn. At 8am there were already people waiting - huddling around doorways in the dark, just their faces lit by the Christmas decorations still twinkling inside the shops. I thought of Democritus's atoms. For about ten minutes we waited, the numbers slowly swelling, and a rough queue forming down the road in front of the main shops; while on the other side of the big glass doors the security guards stood, as if watching for a signal, then finally throwing switches to allow the automatic doors to open. The we surged in together.
All of us together can strip a shop. All of us acting together can warm a planet. Small individual changes make big global changes. We are like Democritus's atoms changing everything around us. It is at the same time humbling and terrifying.