Leveling Out In The Anthropocene

Rain has finally filled at least one pond on the ranch.  The crows and squirrels have been battling over the last few pecans left on the trees and the wasps have been swarming around the house and cabin.  The leaves on the trees are turning, with the hickory tree leaves being especially golden this year.  If it weren’t for a couple of rats that keep trying to destroy what is left of the apple trees, this would be an easy move into winter for the fruit trees.

For some years now it seems like the summer to fall to winter transition went from summer straight to winter and winter straight to summer.  But this year the transition from summer to fall to winter seems to be going a bit smoother.  The weather forecasters say the temperatures are unusually high for this time of year while I keep thinking, “Aren’t the temperatures right on track for what scientists have been warning was coming for some time?”

Whether it is man-made climate change on a short term scale, or a long term thaw out from some massive meteor impact tens of millions of years ago that blackened the sky and cooled the planet, I don’t know.  When we are here for such a short time, and one tries to think on scales such as that, it is difficult to understand the complexities of day to day life for such a long period of time.

There is a scene in my novel, Misunderstood, where the protagonist spends weeks walking down row after row of a college library.  He tries to imagine what went into the titles of the books, the authors behind them, the sentence structures, the words, even the formation of symbols we call letters.  The practice of thinking in this manner really is what the scene is about more than the impossibility of actual realization, the idea that because we can practice becoming something more, we can be something more.  We owe just as much respect to what has been, as we do to what will be.

It is easy to think about asteroids and comets smashing into one another and forming globs of muck that through rotation, gravity, and time form something that looks like early Earth.  It is easy to see a human being, but very difficult to see the estimated sixty to ninety trillion cells that make up each of us.  That doesn’t even take into account how many of those cells live and die daily to keep whatever we ultimately are to become going in this life.

When I think on a level of trillions of years, and realize that I am composed of trillions upon trillions of cells, I begin to get my age.  I am not in my forties, as the easy to think about scenario would imply; I am much, much older, and thankfully I grow very, very fast.

It would be a better world were we able to view each other for our true ages.  If only we could constantly be aware of how truly fortunate we are to be here, to be educated subjects of nature rather than victims there of, as so often is the case. 

The key, I think, isn’t to deny nature, it is to intellectually rise above it.  We should never forget where we come from, but we should always try to improve where we are going.