29 April 20XX +1
My Dear Lucilius:
Our nights are still a bit too cold for planting to begin. This has always bothered me about living here, that I really cannot get things in the ground until well after I would in my previous dwelling locations. I suppose it is why so many that garden here chose to have greenhouses.
Before, of course, it was useful and productive hobby. Now, it may very well be that “life and death” sort of thing the apocalyptic authors always wrote about.
It strikes me as humorous as I sit here in the morning, writing over my tea (the coffee has gone back into storage to be brought out for special occasions, if at all): I sit in my small house filled with things, many of which have limited or no functionality in the newly reconstituted world.
The refrigerator – it is not mine but rather a dinosaur from another age, the International Harvester unit that my grandparents in their day put here. It has been used seldom enough over the years before my arrival that it continued to function without interruption – right up to the day we lost power for good. Now, it is nothing more than a shelf and storage unit.
Or the other various items of furniture in this house, or the dishes and cookware – functional, yes; thankfully I am not one to overspend on such things so likely their function still matches their value.
On the other hand, things that were readily available – hand tools for example, or weapons, or even books – have taken on a value far beyond what I paid for them. Not just in the their practical usefulness of course, but in the fact that they are in some cases now (and going forward, perhaps all) virtually irreplaceable.
Yes, I suppose one can make the argument that screwdrivers and pliers and dictionaries will still be around in abundance in the years to come. But even then, those things will cost something, and the cost of them will be something of equal or greater value, not just the slips of paper we used to exchange. And unless I miss my mark, no-one will be making such things again, at least in my time left on this earth. The sort of machining required for modern tools and many modern things now lies silent, lacking the power and skill sets to create more materials.
So many missed two things, Lucilius: The nature of true value, and the fact that civilization and the things that maintained it are a dense interconnected web of unrealized and unrecognized contributions. Cut too many string of the web, and it will simply collapse – and without a spider to rebuild it, it will simply remain brokenly, flailing upon the wind.
Your Obedient Servant, Seneca