The pleasures of the sight, the pleasures of the flesh, the vanities of life – 14th April 2020

“A hundred billion people who came before us, over ten thousand generations and everything they did for us, to build up our world…if we were to go extinct, through our own actions, or lack of doing anything about it, we would be the worst of those ten thousand generations.”

– Tony Ord from the Ezra Klien podcast

I’ve gotten into the habit of listening to podcasts before I go to sleep (after reading comics and books before I go to sleep….it seems like I just don’t want to sleep!). The quote above, right from the very beginning of the podcast, shook me awake.

The podcast goes on to talk about real existential threats to our world and when I say our world, I really only mean the human world. Outside threats such as asteroids are very unlikely to be the cause. Internal threats such as nuclear war and pandemics are the most likely. Humans are the pox on this earth but we can redeem ourselves.

Each morning I receive an email with a quote and a writing prompt and I attempt to put down a few words of thought. The prompts are sometimes too thought-provoking, requiring too much time for me to consider (though consider them I should). This morning I got this:

Quote
Don’t go on discussing what a good person should be. Just be one.
Marcus Aurelius

Prompt
You are but one animal among trillions. Let the trivial fall away. Focus on the important.

My response:
I was thinking about this yesterday after a collection of different and varying inputs – watching a documentary about prostitutes struggling with drugs and taking care of a pet, watching cat videos, listening to podcasts about human extinction and reading Sufi tales with talking animals.  
Why do humans think they are more important than other animals?  
We will destroy ourselves.  So, focus on the important?  Decide what is important.

And, in the face of everything, this is a big question. If nuclear wars and pandemics are the most likely causes of the end of human existence – this feels like it must be important then.

Some will shrug their shoulders and give up, often promoting their view as a good thing. Others will sincerely do their best to encourage action from everyone and anyone. The worst will be those taking advantage of the situation to enrich their own lives.

I’m still thinking about and searching for the answer.

We start out loudly and go in circles, all things converging, we find an end to each day – 11th April 2020

“High in the North in a land called Svithjod there is a mountain. It is a hundred miles long and a hundred miles high and once every thousand years a little bird comes to this mountain to sharpen its beak. When the mountain has thus been worn away a single day of eternity will have passed.”

― Hendrik Willem Van Loon, The Story of Mankind

That little bird is our lives. Dwarfed by the magnificence of time.

We are small and insignificant. Not individual, not a group, nor a race. Not a society, a species or a thought from God. We are nothing.

The dinosaurs, the mammoths, the pharaohs, the sultans and kings, the inventors, the thinkers and philosophers, the builders, the masters and slaves, the writers, the historians, the celebrities, the murderers, the saints and the despots. You and me. Nothing.

What will you do with this information?

Our floating houses on molten granite
Our liquid planet, it is a home for us all
I’m firmly planted, my earth is solid
I feel a presence but there is nothing at all
I wanted something, down here is something
It’s really something but there is nothing at all

‘Slowly Melting’ by Nomeansno