The Understory: Issue Twenty-Five
How may more of the "[TITLE]: How X will help save the world" books will we see in the coming years, I wonder. Many modes of thought and modes of being can help inform and support us, like Tyson Yunkaporta's writing, and now this geological frame of time-sense.
Reading Malidoma Some's The Healing Wisdom of Africa these past two weeks. He outlines the five-fold cosmology, Earth is in the center of a wheel shape, with Water as the wide North, and Fire as the narrower South, Nature is the lower South East and Mineral is the lower South West quadrant. In the context of your article this week, what is interesting to note is that Mineral is the element that stores memory, story, and here you are journeying to the center of that Earth memory.
Bjornerud echoes Robin Wall Kimmerer in that all the natural world are verbs not nouns. And that concept of Deep Time is infused in everything Joanna Macy has done with her Work That Reconnects. The kalpas or Yugas - we are in the Kali Yuga, The Fourth Age, of war and chaos before the cosmic reset, more available on that here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kali_Yuga
Not only do we in the so-called civilized West lack a sense of the cyclical nature of time, and of geological time, we spend all our moments seeking what's next and thus fail to live in the only moment that there ever is, the present moment.
As to the age of the Earth, some of what I'm reading lately portrays the Earth as a cosmic womb for consciousness. There have been others before us, there will be others after us. The Earth herself is developing her consciousness over the billions of years. Ray Anderson, may he rest in peace, the former CEO of Interface carpet, would often give a speech in which he asked the participants of the conference hall to picture the timeline of the earth spanning all the wall space from each corner to corner, and then to reflect that the time Humans have been here is less than an inch of space on that time line. It is important to keep that perspective, and it should be humbling to us. We are allowed to be here for the moment, but we don't get to wreck our school before we graduate.
The transition from fossil fuels to solar, renewables, and possibly boron-based fusion is going to be a watershed moment for human maturation. The universe already provides all the energy we need, if we can break the scarcity-based economic models that have made a very few far more powerful than any set of humans ought to be. Radically democratized access to power generation will come alongside radically democratized access to the Sacred. We all are waking up to what is possible, and we see the current polarization as part of the Old's last gasp of fighting what is coming next, what is seeking to be born. May we all help to found the transitional economies we need to get us to that future. Take a look at the Geoversity in Panama, founded by Nathan Gray, Dr. Tamsin Woolley Barker and others as one example of what the next generation is already doing to prepare themselves to lead in that future.
Hi Adam, another scholarly and thought provoking issue that leaves me a bit bewildered as to whether the earth, let alone the human race, can survive whether humans have the will to or not. The fact that our precious earth is only half way through its 10 billion year life cycle and that when humans finally appeared they immediately started destroying its bountiful liveability in the briefest eye blink of time is just unfathomable. I am not a negative person but the poor dodo bird comes to mind.
Reference to the Laws of Matter and the fact that matter does not diminish, it just becomes another form of matter that will not necessarily be good for any life, should help inform the current search for new renewable energies. Meaning that the next big round of depletion and exhaustion of the earths' resources as we rush headlong into batteries and solar panels etc. should bring with it more serious consideration of what form of matter will haunt earth next.
I do promise to cheer up; it is a great article Adam. You have definitely encouraged more study, thanks also for the ready made reading list. Cheers Mitch
Wow, this was an expansive one. Though of all topics, time and its understanding requires some rigour. I love the two voices you relied on the piece. I was thinking earlier today of Bjornrud's analogy that humanity in our current time and place behaves like terrible tourists - trashing the place, paying no attention to what goes on when we're not here, and basically trying to take whatever we can. It's basically like our job is to steal the linens and avoid paying the bill.
My mind goes to whether one can develop an aspiration towards polytemporal grace - of trying to live well, in the context not only of one's own time, but in one's epoch or beyond. Can we take on the role of being a custodian of our layer in the sedimentary record, and embrace the challenge of leaving behind a strata that shows more than just fragments of degraded plastic toys - both physically and metaphorically.