Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On good days I believe in magic

Today is Earth Day and I've been debating with myself whether I want to say anything related to that or not. I have been finding my way with this blog, mostly chatting and commenting on the mundanities of everyday life. I sometimes feel like I ought to be saying Significant Things, and then I think No, leave that to others. Sometimes significance is vastly overrated. The details of life are what it is all about. If you manage to get through an entire lifetime without ever having noticed the details, well, that's really too bad. Not that someone shouldn't comment on the Significant Things, I'm just not sure I want to do that here.

However, having said that, I'm going to anyway.

So. Earth Day.

I vacillate between optimism and pessimism about our fate here. On good days I believe in magic, on bad days I don't. I do think the world is going to hell in a handbasket, I do think my grandchildren are not growing up to a very nice world. I would like to make a difference there, but I often despair at the futility of it. It is very easy to get overwhelmed by the bad news, the ugly realities of human nature.

I read a book a couple of years ago that was based on an interesting metaphor which I would like to repeat here. Unfortunately I do not remember the book title or the author's name, so I cannot give proper acknowledgment, but I really like the metaphor. The author described a business back in the '70s, in which someone created sealed glass balls containing a bit of air, a bit of water, a plant and some small water creatures, probably those "sea monkeys" they used to advertise on the back pages of comic books. They were called Ecospheres. The idea was that they were self-contained ecosystems, that you could put on your desk or wherever and just watch.

You would order one and the company would mail it out to you. Sometimes they arrived damaged. Sometimes they lasted a few days and then something happened to put the whole system out of whack and they died. But sometimes they lasted quite a while, the delicate balance of the little world was stable and the contained creatures survived. The author imagined that in a way our universe is like that. Scattered around there are all these experimental ecospheres, some are damaged, some last a short time and die, some last a long time.

We live in one of those ecospheres. So far the experiment has been wonderfully successful. Some amazing changes have happened in the history of our little planet, and it has survived more than one disaster. Now we are on the brink of another disaster. In fact, we are the disaster. Will the Earth survive? Will we survive? Will we learn ways to manage our activity on this little planet in a way that works for all its inhabitants? I don't know. On my good days I believe in magic. On my bad days I don't.

I think though that we have had a number of very wise human beings point the way to solving this problem. We do get good advice, if only we could follow it. I have come to believe, and I know this sounds corny, but maybe the best advice really is corny, that what it will take is love. When we learn to really love each other and love this planet then we will do whatever it takes to keep the experiment going. Nothing more, nothing less.

As I say, on good days I believe in magic, on bad days I don't.


lacochran said...

Very eloquent post.

One of my favorite quotes (from a phone booth at the Omega Institute) is: "Of magic doors there is this: You do not see them even as you are going through."

Anne said...

And thank you again ;-) That's a good quote, I'll remember that one.