The World

A Flock Of Black Swans Is Flying Overhead

The damned things are everywhere

Michelle Teheux
3 min readMay 16, 2022
Photo by Yuting Liu on Unsplash

You’ve probably started hearing a lot about black swans lately.

If you’re like me, you may have looked up “black swan event” and learned the term “is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.” (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

I’m 56, but if you’d checked in with me when I was 52, I’d have said I felt fortunate to be living in a pretty easy time period.

Previous generations lived through things like famine and war. They had to suffer through many serious childhood diseases and if they were lucky enough to make it to adulthood, they’d almost certainly have to bury some of their children.

A couple of generations ago, if your knees started hurting in middle age, you used a cane and walked less and less until you finally passed away. My husband got two new knees last year and is able to stay extremely active.

At one time, if your teeth hurt, you could only pull them — but my mouth is pain-free thanks to several root canals I’ve had through the years.

You can think of your own examples.

(Of course, I’m speaking of the developed world; plenty of people still suffer unnecessarily from such things in other parts of the world.)

I expected to skate through for the rest of my life without any major cataclysms. Medical science was getting better all the time, wars were a thing of the past in most of the world and rights for women, minorities and LGBTQ people were looking pretty good. Climate change was my major worry, but I took at least some comfort in a growing consensus that we needed to make serious changes.

I knew I’d have my personal challenges like everyone else, but I didn’t expect a flock of black swans to gather over my head and threaten to block out all the sunlight.

But we are now rushing headlong into a dystopian future.

Just for fun, let’s make a list:

The pandemic

The election of an…



Michelle Teheux

Lover of literature. Editor of Minds Without Borders. Former newspaper editor. Fascinated by everything. Contact at