My Sublime & Unending Education: Memoirs of a Thirteen-Year-old Philosopher [Vol. I – Chapter 1 – Part II– The Law of Change]

I don’t remember all the details of my childhood or all that happened during my teenage years or 13th year for that matter, however, there are quite a few lasting memories, moments, events and occurrences itched at the cornerstone of my mind that clearly standout and have withstood the fading and eroding powers of time. If memory serves me well, it was the late 90s, late 99 to be exact, the fall academic school year had just begun, and I was going through the usual horrors of boarding school in Southern Nigeria. [PS: Boarding school is horrible everywhere, so no big deal :)] And like every other year since my schooling began, I had just completed another birthday and turned thirteen on September 10th.

It was late 99 and the Y2K buzz [or shall I say Y2K bug?] was spreading around my fellow earthlings like a really bad case of the pandemic, nay, more like an epidemic bubonic plague of biblical proportions, and was even louder in the fall of 99 than it had been all year. Besides the fact that humanity or my fellow earthlings, were filled with excitement, anticipation, ecstasy, joy uncertainty, progress, unity about the dawning of a new millennium, there was also the [un]usual fear and panic that came along with attaining such historic milestones. As a result, no one was safe from this pandemic that had no antidote, that was sweeping humanity like a hurricane five force wind. Human made fear of course. The fear and panic of the Y2K computer bug and the world coming to an end from some religious sects, was quite like nothing humanity had clearly seen or witnessed before. Doomsday prophecies were being preached from the roof tops, tales of signs of the “end times”, endless references to various arcane spiritual and biblical texts and books, somehow telling us that this was it, humanity’s time was up, was causing quite a fuss, commotion and hullabaloo amongst most people on the planet back then. But let’s not get into the biblical, arcane, religious or spiritual connotations about the Y2K buzz, so we’ll stick to the Y2K bug, which I’ll restrict to the scientific and technological … for now.

I don’t know what mischief you were up to back in the late 90s, but news of this mysterious computer Y2K bug, that was somehow going to bring the World Wide Web and everything digital to its knees, was all the buzz of 99, I tell ya. Oh and something about a dot com bubble bust and wall street crashing and bursting into flames and people losing all their money and their livelihood and their savings and some bankers going to jail for insider trading … you know, the usual day in Wall Street, yabadabadoo yabadabada. Didn’t really know much about wall street back then as a thirteen year old or even who a stock broker was or what a stock broker did, or even knew that you having a website back in the late 90s made you millions of dollars on the stock market. But the noise and ripples from this Y2K bug and the repercussive and damaging effect it would have on the global economy, wall streeters, and their day-to-day commotive activity [with them holding three phones and looking at 10 million computer screens with graphs, and spikes, and tickers] was loud and powerful enough to disturb my peace on the other side of the Atlantic, in Sub-Sahara Africa. Even for a thirteen year old, the horrors of boarding school or my Sony PlayStation during school breaks, couldn’t distract me enough from this mass media Y2K hysteria sweeping the planet. That was the magnitude of the Y2K buzz as it reverberated around the planet.

The myriad of news and media outlets, both local and international, as well as BBC and CNN [CNN International, the version beamed across the African continent, which is very much different from CNN North America, was very good to me growing up] was buzzing with rumours, tales, doomsday prophecies; that computers, printers, faxes, machines, you name it, would automatically start acting crazy and bizarre come the last day of the year. Elevators would go into free fall, plummeting people to their deaths, planes would fall from the skies, the banking sector and the world economy would collapse and cripple the day-to-day economic activities of the world, causing hyperinflation and overnight recessions, come the ungodly hour and even more ungodly second that spawned across 11:59:59 PM December 31st 1999 and 00:00:00 AM of January 1st, 2000.

It was a blend and mix of pseudo religious, meets the cyber and modern, spawning a sort of ultimate digital doomsday paranoia, at it’s utmost best. Almost like a bad Hollywood movie, with a little sprinkle and dash of Steven Spielberg-Deep impact-Armageddon kind of vibe going around my fellow earthlings back in 99. The only difference, you were starring in the movie, everyone was starring in it. You were your very own last action hero or devious villain, depending on if you gave into the fear or not. The air was filled and thick with fear and paranoia, you could almost taste it in the air. Was humanity’s time really up? Was this really the end? Watching the news, there was chaos, madness and looting [because that’s just what you need when the world is ending, acquired stolen goods!] everywhere. People were stocking up on food supplies, they were building bunkers underground, people were quitting their jobs and telling their bosses and managers were to stick it, others were jumping off buildings and skipping town [where are you moving to mate, it doesn’t matter where you go, the world is ending!]. Humanity really is it’s own worst enemy. I learned that we really are the masters and grand architects of all our fears, headaches, troubles and miseries, as it was clearly illustrated to me back in 99.

As a thirteen year old, I refused to be swayed or moved to the clanging brassing sound and noise of the masses. However, I watched all this madness, chaos and hysteria unfold and play out before my very eyes, albeit, with a curious sense of wonder and indifference. Neither excited about this supposed “end” that was fast approaching, nor sad about it. Rather just allowing the cosmic chips of time to fall where they may. But if I may paraphrase my good friend, Einstein, ‘The Universe doesn’t play dice’. And rightly so, for this is not a universe of random chance and random occurrences, acting on a whim and playing out to an out of tune or out of pitch cosmic musical composition. My ancient Greek friend, Pythagoras of Samos [who so majestically coined and first used the word Kosmos to describe the Universe] said “All is Unity … All is number … All is One … The Universe endlessly expresses itself into various forms to an endless musical perfection … All proceed and is expressed from Unity and all will eventually return to Unity”. He knew that something that my other friends knew too, that Something that separates those who are clearly still asleep from those who are awake. Einstein, Pythagoras and quite a few others in the annals of history, knew that Something. The Universe certainly doesn’t play dice, as it is not a casino house or ping ball machine.It is a Universe of Law and Order. If anything at all, it plays chess on a cosmic grand scale and it’s the Ultimate Chess Grand Master. After all, my good old friend from ancient Greece, Heraclitus of Ephesus, did say in numerous ways ‘Everything changes except the law of change … Everything moves and nothing stands still … You can’t step in the same water twice’. The only constant is change. He knew something. I was neither scared of this change nor adamant towards it happening. However, I pondered to myself, “The world is ending? It can’t possibly be, I mean I just got here and now you’re telling me it’s about to end?” I neither accepted it nor rejected it. They say hindsight is always 20/20, and so, in looking back and in the grand scheme of things, my stance or view on it didn’t matter. The chaos and noise didn’t matter. When the Great Awakening comes, nothing in this world matters.

Anyways, it turns out that the manufacturers, coders or consortium of programmers failed to update their clockwork, as they only used the last two digits to represent time. So 1999 to a computer would be interpreted as 99, but 2000 would be? … 00? Which to a computer wasn’t different from 1900 or 1800/1700/1600 etc. I’m pretty sure that was the whole gist of the Y2K bug. That was in a nutshell, what was causing all the global mass hysteria, global stir and panic … silly clockwork. At least, from the technological and scientific point of view. Humanity let its greatest hour and most joyous/precious historic moment in entering a new millennium be stolen by the most trivial of trivialities.

Nevertheless, and for the most part, millions of people around the world had fun entering into the new millennium, with cheer, joy and laughter. I am pretty sure, I snoozed into it.  (to be cont’d …)

Cover art: Heraclitus [of Ephesus] by Johannes Moreelse (1602-1634) {{PD-Art}} – Wikipedia Commons

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