Tim Ferriss was chatting with Tim Urban, writer of Wait, But Why. When explaining how we got here and what will happen next, Tim Urban said if we think of history as a 700-page book, “So, 140,000 years, every page in this book that you’re holding is 200 years in human history. So, Page 1 through 650 of that book, hunter gathers. If you’re an alien reading this book to understand what happened on this planet, you are bored. This is really boring. Page 650, 10,000 years ago, you have the agriculture revolution. Wait. So, suddenly, people are coming together and forming cities. They’re starting to actually form larger civilizations. They have a collective intelligence that’s starting to form. They can compare notes. They can kind of create the knowledge tower that is bigger than any one of them.
It’s very interesting stuff. So, that’s 50 pages ago. Then, it gets boring again for a while. Page 690 out of 700, the little tiny end of the book here, you’ve had Jesus. You have 693, you have the advent of Islam. The Roman Empire happens two pages ago. It’s already done. In 697, you have Imperialism. For the first time, you have countries. There’s this new thing that happened in the last three pages. Page 698, you have the enlightenment, you have the renaissance. You have things like this. They discover that there’s galaxies, telescope. Page 699, you finally get to the beginning of the US and the beginning of the constitutional democracies.
Now, Page 700 happens, which is from about 200 years ago to today. So, the beginning of Page 700, the alien turns the page, industrial revolution happens. Big deal, big change. And as he reads down the page, things start to go crazy. You start to have – in 699 pages this alien has read, this boring ass species has communicated through letters and talking.
He was excited about language 500 pages ago. Now, he’s bored. Smoke signals, firing a canon ball in the air, stuff like that. Suddenly, on Page 700, we go to the space station. We have the moon. We have airplanes. We have cars just on Page 700. So, 699 pages, we only communicate through – we have this kind of simple transportation, communication. Now, we have Face Time. We have telephone. We have the internet. Crazy. Less than a billion people for the first 699 pages. On Page 700 alone, we cross the one, two, three, four, five, six and seven billion person marks. So, the alien is reading.
And his wife comes in and is like hey, we’re going to have dinner. And he’s like shut up. This is the most riveting thing suddenly. He’s like what is about to happen to this species? This is crazy what just happened on this page. This is when we’re born. We’re born at the end of Page 700. This is why when someone says what do you think the future is going to be, I’m like Page 701. And he’s like what the hell is this guy talking about. Page 701, there’s no way it’s not going to be nuts.”
Us folks arrived on page 700 of that 700-page book. And so much changed on that one page. We are moving at a breakneck speed and that is why it is more important than ever to remember that you must prioritize self-care and know that we are only a small piece of the big story. But this is our story, and we have to decide how we want to write it. Other historical societies had many pages. We have one.
So, while you’re here, love the ones you love, don’t use energy worrying about those who don’t see your value, spend your days doing something using the skills that only you have, and take care of yourself. What will be the plot of the scene you are living today? Only you can decide.