When you look back on a lifetime and think of what has been given to the world by your presence, your fugitive presence, inevitably you think of your art, whatever it may be, as the gift you have made to the world in acknowledgement of the gift you have been given, which is the life itself … that work is not an expression of the desire for praise or recognition, or prizes, but the deepest manifestation of your gratitude for the gift of life. – Stanley Kunitz
A few billion years ago, microscopic “life forms” caused Earth to change from an uninhabitable nasty suffocating place to one more like we now know. As the movie Jurassic Park scientist character said, “Life, uh, finds a way….” So, here are these tiny forms of life Finding Their Way, and what they did was pave the way for all living things by transforming our Earth.
Sometimes I wonder, if I were transported back even a few thousand years, how would my breathing be? What would the earth smell like? How would my feet feel upon the ground, my eyes see color and texture? If a scientist took the inner workings, the soft tissue, of someone from that time and compared it to my soft tissue, what would the differences be? How have we evolved because of the changes in our atmosphere, and what we eat, how we move about or don’t move about, and how we live our everyday lives in response to happiness and having things and not having things, to the stresses and joys and overwhelming possibilities of just where are we headed and how life is lived now and our responses to each other as humans with varied thoughts and beliefs and the very nature of how we know everything that is going on everywhere twenty-four hours a day/night—how would we differ from the earliest “intelligent life?” To begin and end and begin and end and begin and end, round and round and round we go.
But I seemingly digress. Let’s see. Meteorites bombarded—carbon arrived. Bacteria partied and hooked up. Things began to change.
These tiny micro-organisms reproduced and belched and poo’d and thusly started the reactions to create the oxygen to change the atmosphere of our Earth to one where A Life Form would at worst be vaporized and also at worst (there is no at best here) asphyxiate in agony to one where we can walk along a garden and pick a fresh tomato and eat it, while a rabbit sniffs the carrots, and a butterfly sips from a flower, and a tree shades a dog, and a cat eats a mouse, and a child is born and it is protected—or it is not.
If you imagine our sun as weaker and that light from it was weaker, if you imagine the hydrogen sulfide and stinky fumes and the amount of carbon dioxide, this fiery place—sounds more like the Biblical apocalypse, doesn’t it?—as if the idea of the End of the World is not really the End of the Earth but the beginning of it. So, here’s this Earth with a stifling atmosphere and a red-orange color, and oceans that were a weird slug green color. Comets and meteors pounding the crap out of Earth, vaporizing waters, creating noxious rain, and it is in this environment that Life, uh, finds a way. [Read more…]