If there is anything that will make you feel just as small and inconsequential as you actually are, it’s geology. We see all of these lush plants and quirky animals and we think that they are the living, breathing soul of our Mother Earth. When cases are made about climate change and all the death and destruction that is likely to ensue, it is on these rather vulnerable, soft-bodied entities that data is collected. We are preoccupied with the thought that we are in the end-of-days, the final chapter, that everything we think of as “life” is on the brink of extinction.
But Mother Earth’s soul is a much more volatile engine, one that is churning and burning and generating fiery forces which are drafting, as I type, whole new outlines and plot twists for the future.
There are a few dope things that we theorize about this planet, and here is one: A constantly drifting series of plates forces minerals beneath the Earth’s surface, melts them, regurgitates them, and forms completely new appendages which will eventually be eroded, broken down into its core constituents, and reimagined again through the same, eons-long process. All of this is driven by radioactive decay, and there will be a time at some point in the future when the Earth’s core has been transformed into lead and then — and only then — will this lovely planet “die.” Before that time, however, the Earth is creating stories upon stories with a complicated and Joycean approach to structure and character development.
Yes, it is extremely likely that human behavior will have resulted in our own inability to survive on this planet well before the core burns out, but just because we and other things we call “life” won’t be able to exist, it doesn’t mean the planet is not engaging in a rather beautiful process of reformation. It will churn and burn and build and destroy and there will be entirely new ways of life that develop in concert with that. Our chapter will be over and yet another will begin. And another. And another . . .
When I think of all of the schoolrooms throughout the tiny slice of history that is human experience, dusty blackboards coated with the remains of millions of shellfish inhabitants of this planet, I take comfort in the idea that all of these chapters — those we experience as conscious humans, those that came before us, and those that will come after — are part of a larger construct. I’m not a godfearing lass, so I don’t think there’s any entity that’s keeping track of these tales, but I find peace in the idea that, someday, my biological presence will be transformed into something that may be stumbled upon by future forms of life and possibly be part of some minute, yet breathtaking, record of existence. That I am part of an intricate cycle of balance and rebalance, that our inability to get our shit together and inadvertently make this planet inhospitable for us is not actually the end of anything: In fact, it’s likely the beginning of a new iteration of what it means to be alive.