It has come to my attention that in the last 2,000 years, there has been some misunderstanding about your perception of what I am, what our relationship is, and what you are. So, as we enter what will be for me one of my most exciting evolutionary chapters since the disappearance of the dinosaurs, (yes I am talking about something that happened 65 million years ago) I want to set the record straight, remind you of the bigger picture, and explain your role in it. Now I know that your first reaction will be to deny any of this, but I am asking you, for the sake of our relationship, to take a moment to read on.
WHAT AM I?
Perhaps I can start by telling you what I am not. And this might come as a surprise, but I am not something for you to save. I am not some little fragile entity that needs to be protected. I am not yours to manage, either. I am also not your mother. The fact that you bring me down to a gender proves to me that you have failed in recognizing what I am. I understand that you like to bring things to your level so that you can feel better about yourself, but there are things that simply are bigger than you. I know you like to categorize everything because it helps you make sense of the world around you; it gives you a sense of place. It brings you peace when you feel there is a structure you can explain. But please understand that not everything can be categorized. You can’t reduce me to a nice little concept that fits neatly into your perception of what is right and what is wrong. What should be and what should not be. A binary way of looking at the world because that simply doesn’t work. The scale on which I exist and live and the dynamics I deal with are simply out of your realm of comprehension. Just to give you an idea of what we are talking about, you have a rough understanding of my age, which is 4.5 billion years, and my lifespan, which is 7.6 billion years. Whether the numbers are correct or not doesn’t really matter, the lesson is the same. So for the sake of the exercise, going along with those numbers, I can tell you that one minute of your life (given that you live for 100 years) is the equivalent of 144 years for me. The time you will take to read this page (six minutes), represents 864 years of my existence. One day in your calendar is 207,360 years in mine. And one month is 6,220,800 years. A month ago, on my timeline, your species was just emerging! And don’t forget, I am merely a speck in a much bigger picture. In this picture, the timeline is apparently at least 20 times longer than mine. Yes, quite a perspective you might say! It is ok if you have trouble wrapping your head around it. I, too, find it difficult to process. I mean, can you make sense of the difference between 20 billion years versus 50 billions? I sure can’t!
Much like you, I have a goal. And that goal is to become more than what I started with. I want to evolve. I want to spread the knowledge I have acquired over time to new places, and I want a legacy. I want to connect. I want to have a purpose that is beyond me. I mean, who doesn’t? Just like your body, which started as a simple cell that then multiplied, evolved, and turned into the creature that you are, with an amazing brain, two legs and two arms, roaming everywhere, I too started as a tiny little thing, billions of years ago.
My beginnings were quite primitive. I wasn’t the complex entity that I am today. You could think of this chapter in my life as my “baby phase.” It was a time of profound transformation where I had to tough it out and find ways to protect myself. I will be honest with you—it was pretty brutal. I certainly didn’t get to be who I am today because I had it easy. The resiliency I have today was born out of fire and other tragic and monumental events I had to experience.
Now, as time went on, slowly and gradually, and with luck, I added layers of complexity onto myself. I started to experiment; I started to push the boundaries. I started to get out of my comfort zone to see what would happen. Some of my experiments were brilliant and some others, well, they didn’t get too far. For a while, I thought I had it all figured out. I had this one project going that lasted for a long time and it was wonderful and beautiful. But for some reasons it wasn’t going anywhere, either. At least not in the direction I wanted it to. Then the project ended; it totally collapsed. I mean, everything disappeared! And it wasn’t even my fault. You can thank the Universe for this one! All that I had built was destroyed; I mean everything. If you want a trivial human metaphor, think of Steve Jobs being fired from Apple. Yep, that’s how it felt. I had spent so much energy and time building something, then and out of nowhere, coming from the sky, I lost it all. But, hey, I’m an entrepreneur and I wasn’t going to let this cataclysmic event bring me down. I looked at what I had left and started to build on it.
Now remember my goal, and what I want my legacy to be about. I want to be the starting point, not the end. I want to connect to others, I want to reach out. Most of all, I want to find others like me. So how do I achieve that? How do I get beyond the limits and challenges that were given to me and fulfill my dreams? How do I share all the knowledge I have? Well, I keep pushing the boundaries and I keep trying. I keep looking for new ways. And I know that this by itself is designed to create conflict. Now, before you make a judgment, let me remind you that it is exactly the same journey you, your body, and your mind experience, but on a smaller scale. How did you get to be who you are today? Was it a straight line? Did you have any setbacks? Did you fail and make any mistakes? How did you develop the skills you have? How did you achieve the impossible? It certainly wasn’t by sitting back and letting the world go by. It wasn’t without its share of challenges, struggles, and suffering. You have tried. You have failed. You have tried again. You have learned. You have adapted. You have transformed. Then new challenges found you and the cycle keeps repeating.
Before I move on to the next point on my agenda, I need to circle back to the first question – Who Am I? I know you like clear answers, so here it is. I am the Planet, of course, and the knowledge I have is Life. And Life is Nature. There is no such thing as “life and nature.” They are one and the same. My purpose in life is to spread Life, spread it to places that have no Life. I am not interested in keeping things the way they are, so I am definitely not a fan of the status quo. I embrace disruptions. In fact I thrive from them. I do everything I can to create change and force innovation because I want to evolve. And I hope that I and the others can create this mosaic of Life across the Universe. It is not a small endeavor I can assure you. But it is one that I am committed to.
Earlier, I mentioned one of my projects that lasted for a long time but was then destroyed. I also said that it wasn’t going anywhere. What I meant is that it had reached a plateau and if the randomness of the Universe hadn’t reset the clock, well, I’m not even sure we would be here talking to each other. I mean, it is quite extraordinary that the mammals have done more evolving in the last 65 millions of years than the dinosaurs did in 200 million years. I don’t want to say anything bad about the reptiles. They were amazing, but again, I wanted more. Now even within the mammals, one species has proven to be extremely resourceful, and quite surprising, a bit arrogant from time to time, but still the only one that has risen to the task and is about to help me fulfill my dreams. So yes, this new era we found ourselves in is about to be one of my most exciting evolutionary milestones.
Which leads me to my next point: WHO ARE YOU?
You are a vessel for something that is much bigger than you. You are a tool for life to expand. You, along with other species, are doing the same as I am doing. In fact, it is the same as what the Universe is doing. And what galaxies are doing. We are born, we grow and expand, we slow down and settle. Finally, we reach the end of the journey, only to be recycled into something else and reborn for a new journey. The Big Bang, as you call it, wasn’t the beginning of it all, it was only the start of a new chapter in a book that has neither a beginning nor an end.
While life gave every organism the same tools for evolution, you, somehow, through immense luck, managed to acquire certain skills that allowed you to do quantum leaps in development. Some of those little discoveries were simply born out of a biological and evolutionary purpose, but they evolved and became much more. The consciousness you possess today, while extremely complex and powerful, started like everything else, a simple spark, nothing more. A cell that grew, and continues to grow. But as life is built on duality, these new powers came with their own burden. Your sense of awareness allows you to study the past, question the present, and imagine a future. However, it also makes you compare and wonder what is missing. Your emotions enhance your journey in ways that are truly magical, but they also offer tragedies, pain, and suffering a way to be expressed. And your remarkable ingenuity either builds or destroys the greatest of castles.
And all together, they set the stage for a complicated journey. While your lives are rich with discoveries and your capacity to engineer the impossible is truly remarkable, you are still a young and immature species trying to grasp the immensity of the Universe and struggling to accept the limited but really important part you play in it. So you create stories to give meaning to lives that have no purpose other than to push life forward. That said, for the record, I must share with you that I am amazed at your creativity in creating stories, because they are truly incredible and have the power to get you through the unthinkable. But be warned that they also have the capacity to take away everything you have built and destroy all the work you have accomplished.
TO BOLDLY GO
Life is continuously moving forward, boldly going where it hasn’t been before. And when not in motion, it is because something is holding it back, not because it wants to stop. Just like water in a glass, its desire for expanding is contained. But take the glass away and the water goes everywhere. Some of it will evaporate, and some of it will nourish certain organisms. And some of it will sneak through cracks and merge with other waters, until it finds the ocean. Even there, contained by the earth’s crust, it still moves, trying to find a place to go.
So are you.
Being an ambassador for life, you are constantly moving forward, looking for new places. And when those places are not reached, it is not because you don’t want to, but because you can’t. These mountains locked you in until you found a way over or around them. These oceans kept you from going further until you learned to ride them. The sky was a place of the realm of dreams until you discovered how to build wings. For every obstacle, you have found a way to overcome them. Propelled by this relentless and eternal inner force, you fulfill Life’s mission with undeniable creativity and resourcefulness.
And now, for the first time in billions of years, we have a species (you) that is about to leave the nest and embark on a journey like none other, bringing along the knowledge I have given you to new destinations. This is so exciting! Do you know how many other planets have tried and failed? Their numbers are staggering!
Now don’t be fooled. Just like everything else before, this new chapter will grow into its own journey of transformation, unveiling with it known and unimaginable struggles, threats, and pains. My advice is simple: don’t think you can avoid them, just be prepared. They are part of the process.
While you are a species worthy of special recognition, you are also nothing more than one piece in a puzzle made of thousands, even millions, of other pieces. By itself, you mean nothing. By yourself, you are nothing. It is together that you become something! It is your connections to others and everything else that bring value to your existence. In that sense, you are just like me. If it wasn’t for the sun, the Moon, the planets, the comets, the asteroids and so many other entities, I would have nothing to show for my life. If it wasn’t for them, I would be meaningless and would have not been able to nurture Life, and that includes you. You owe what you are today not only to them but also to everything else that came before. Your existence is built on the disappearances of past species and failures of past societies.
As you venture forward, be grateful and humble. Don’t be greedy and righteous. Life uses diversity to not only enrich the experience but also (and most importantly) to develop the resilience needed in facing the unknown. Remember that it is not about you. It is not about me, either. It is about Life and its mission to become more than what it once was. To evolve, and connect, just a like a fungi that stretches on a log, or the neurons in your brain. If you fail to recognize your place in it, if you mistake your importance for entitlement and treat what is around you as slaves to your illusion of being a master, know that there is a future awaiting for your failure and disappearance.
Now make me proud and boldly go where no Life has been before.
PS. Stop thinking you are a bad species. Evolution is messy. Life is messy. I am messy. The Universe is messy. You make a mess and it lasts for one year. Humanity breaks something and takes 100 years to fix it. I make a mess and it lasts for a million years. The Universe makes a mess and it goes on for a billion years. What matters is what you do once you realize you made a mistake or that what was once a solution has outlived its purpose and is now a problem. So stop obsessing about finding someone to blame! Instead, move forward with acquired wisdom, and continue being creative and resourceful. Oh, and if you had forgotten, Life/Nature created you. Not the other way around.
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