Today I have travelled through time, journeyed on our small, but ever so beautiful planet and glimpsed the vastness of the Universe.
Reading “Evolution” by Stephen Baxter and then watching “Samsara” by Ron Fricke on the same day does not leave you entirely unaffected.
I didn’t call this blog “Life, the universe and everything” for nothing. It was never just for me to write about writing. Every now and then I’ll throw out my 2 cents worth to figure out why the answer is 42.
“Evolution” was unexpected, but very well thought through. I believe I learned a lot about how and why we, the most curious and peculiar species roaming the Earth, evolved. Yes, it is a novel, not a monograph on evolution.
But Stephen Baxter doesn’t write out of the blue. He either knows his stuff or researches it. And then he weaves a story, one that makes sense and is utterly plausible.
Humans evolved over many, many millions of years. We believe we’ve reached the peak. But we’ve only existed in our current form for a few ten thousand years. Homo sapiens sapiens, who really isn’t always as smart as s/he believes to be, may not yet be done evolving, or, if we’re not careful, may end up devolving. That, too, is an option as it turns out and not an unlikely one.
Anything can happen and anything is possible. We’re creators. What we’ve created in the last 10,000 years boggles the mind. There is so much beauty to be found on this planet, and not just its natural beauty, but things that were made by us and are continued to be made by us.
We’ve left traces.
But how long those traces will last is anyone’s guess.
Do yourself a favour and watch Samsara. It is stunningly photographed. Sometimes it is disjointed and hard to follow, because it isn’t narrated. One is only guided by the images and how the sections were cut and edited and sometimes it’s not making an awful lot of sense. But overall it may leave you speechless and quite possibly stunned.
You see, the problem is that we are also destroyers. If we tip the scales, and we will be the ones tipping them eventually, and can’t hold the balance between creation and destruction, preservation and exploitation any longer, we will fall and it will be devastating.
The odds are not in our favour and there’s nobody to blame but us. Those who actively seek nothing but their own gain, and those who just watch and let them.
You can’t read “Evolution” and not wonder “is this what it will be like?” Do we only get 10,000 years to break out of the darkness and shine in a brief, blindingly bright spark just to burn ourselves and return to darkness? Do we really matter so little?
Yeah, actually, currently that may very well be all there will be. It’s a sobering thought.
Watching the short video I posted with this, our place in the Universe becomes even more sobering.
Can you grasp it at all? You need a lot of imagination to even begin to understand how vast and immense, immeasurable and infinite the Universe truly is.
Maybe not quite infinite, but it might as well be from where we stand.
There is a school of thought that we are the Universe’s reflection on itself. That is why mind exists, conscious and self-aware. We have no way of finding out if there’s anything to that, but I kind of like this thought. Maybe because it means that we’re not entirely without purpose.
Mind you, homo sapiens is quite good at giving himself a purpose outside of finding the meaning of life and explaining the origin of everything.
I admit that I desperately want to know, if we’re going to make it somehow. If we will leave some sort of legacy that will be greater than sum of all the parts that make us who we are. Earth, the Sun, our little Solar System, won’t be here forever. But by the time the Sun perishes there will be no life left on Earth anyway.
The question is, will life have gone elsewhere? Will it be comprised of our descendants, whatever they will look like? Or won’t we have any?
I firmly believe that the Universe is brimming with life. The possibilities are innumerable. If it is also brimming with mind is a different question altogether.
Maybe life matters more than mind. Or maybe life becomes meaningless without awareness, because there’s nobody to appreciate it.
I don’t know.
I do know that I won’t give up seeking the answers. I do know that I will do all I can to keep the spark bright and burning. And I also know that I will try my best to keep it from consuming us all.
Maybe we will arrive at the point when the rest will be silence. But I hope that this will be in the far future and not already around the corner.
For now this is still in our hands.