Walking Backwards at Christmas

11/17/2011 09:02 am ET

Three months ago, while Christmas shopping, I saw a man walking backwards. There we all were, shoppers in the Mall, all hurrying along to the next purchasing decision, all hurrying the right way, and there he was, walking backwards, the crowds parting to make way for him. I could see his point -- sometimes I wouldn't mind going back to an earlier time. Back to a slower, gentler, more community-oriented, less dumbed-down time, with an ice covered Arctic. Away from the "war on terror" nonsense, away from a globally corporatized world, away from a dumbed down American presidency, away from a Murdochized media, away from reality television.

But of course you can't go back, and he was heading back towards an age of no computers, no television, no antibiotics, no clean water, no anesthetics, no fair legal system, no democracy. Turning his back on this brave new world and heading for the mud huts of the dark ages, unable to cope with the modern world as all around him were doing.

But maybe he was only aiming for the sixties, flowers in his hair and Woodstock mud on his boots, back to a hippier happier time with better music.

Or was I seeing him in the mirror of a shop window? Was he perhaps the only one going the right way and all of us were heading backwards in denial? Was he simply heading to a time of less conspicuous consumption, of public transport, of home grown vegetables, of windows opened for fresh air, of fewer possessions, of community activities?

While we, all the rest of us, were heading, in a headlong rush, towards the dark ages of the 2050s, with mud huts and no electricity, 100 year water wars, food shortages, diseases, desertification. Back to the future of the new medieval times, life brutish, nasty and short.

And I looked back at him, wondering, as the gap between us widened.

Read, backwards or forwards, David Horton's musings on The Watermelon Blog.