Saturday, September 14, 2013

Our Tiny Time Frame

At work a woman from Guatemala with a Mayan name comes up to the register. Her face suggests she's from somewhere in Asia. She holds a little girl who looks exactly like her. It's probably fairly likely that her distant ancestors made their way across the sunken continent that used to connect Asia with North America, a cold dry desert that blocked the warming currents from flowing into the Arctic Ocean. Over hundreds and hundreds of years her ancestors made their way south, past the ice and tundra, across the plains filled with camels and buffalo that had preceded them from Asia, finding at last a paradise of jungle and food and flowers where they could build, eventually, pyramids and write a stone calendar that seemed to predict the end of the world. She probably knows very little of this. Her concerns are with her babies.

The oceans can be understood as another universe. We venture out upon them, but we cannot live in them. At least not anymore, since we became who we are. In far far more distant time we "came" from the oceans. The oceans are the source of life on the planet. The creatures of the oceans, many of them, live generation after generation in peace and tranquility, roaming across their part of the planet, which is most of the planet. We cannot live there. It is their world. It protects them from us, and from the great cycles of time that we are barely aware of, such as the fact that every 40,000 years a clock ticks past a certain mark and the planet begins to move closer again to the sun that sustains life, all life, upon it. We are on the great track towards coolest. We were closest to the sun some 2,000 years past, and hurtle every year and decade towards the next "ice age," when the sunken continent may again emerge. Which is not to say anything at all about the works of our ingenuity which pump so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as to reverse the great cycle. For now.

Read this, then:

Oh, yes, there's that pretty disclaimer at the start. There is nothing, however, to mitigate the general fact. While our President of the tiny Moment wrings his hands at the horror in Syria, our "leaders" have, for the past century, thought it convenient to dump hundreds of tons of chemical weapons into the oceans. Out of sight, out of mind.

We laugh at babies who laugh at peek-a-boo games. Mommy really didn't disappear. Her Mayan face returns, smiling. Today the air is much cooler, and a few stray leaves have fallen on the roof, along with early acorns. There was a late fawn in the pasture at twilight.

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