This story is in reference to the game The Long Dark from Hinterland Games. The player assumes the role of a crash-landed bush pilot who must survive the frigid Canadian wilderness after a global disaster.
The man sat for a spell looking into the fire. He thought about the day, how he had come to find the cave, how lucky he was to have found the sticks, and thus warmth for one more night. Life’s little comforts were flooding him with more happiness than he could remember ever feeling from getting a package of electronics in the mail. The life that was. He thought about his mistakes, his successes, and his near misses.
He thought, “Introspection is the act of using internal language to analyze your behaviors and thoughts and attaching a perceived value to those things as an external person might perceive them. At what point did this become a thing? I think of it as an outgrowth of the development of language. It is a huge advantage for any species of animal to use language to coordinate and communicate as a group vs. working alone. Once that first interaction happened via some sort of communication, spoken, signed or via body language, I’m sure the earliest messages were mind-blowing surprises to both parties.”
The fire spit and hissed. “You don’t agree,” the man asked the glowing sticks.
“Imagine the first communication between two proto-humans. A gulf must have been there between them. One imagines now that they would choose their first words or choose who to communicate with based on an internal monologue. But the internal monologue might not have existed yet. I think the first communication was probably slowly developed over close proximity. Perhaps it rained every day, and these two proto-humans sat together under a tree or in a cave. Then the rain stopped and they both went outside to look for water to drink or food to gather. But then it started raining again and they both ran back to their shared refuge. They didn’t do this together, they just did it at the same time. Then one looked at the other and recognized the shared plight, and perhaps that’s all it was, a shared moment of mutual understanding or a look.”
He shifted his sleeping bag underneath him.
“A day later, as they both exhausted the berries from a bush, they came to the end and shared another look. But then the first of them shook the bush and water fell down on them from above. The proto-man moved his hand up with fingers pointing down mimicking the falling rain and there again was a shared look of understanding between them. The first joke was, ‘At least it’s not raining.’ The first laugh, a grunt.”
The firelight reflected in the man’s eyes. The snow started to fall lightly into the embers of the fire sizzling on the logs.
“We’ve come so far.”