Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Between heaven and hell

We were born
in a temporarily safe place
poised between heaven and hell
at the bottom of a gravity well.

It has taken us 4 billion years
to wake up and realize where we are
(or where we seem to be,
for we have three-dimensional eyes
in a universe that may have four,
or many more, dimensions).

We are short-lived instances
of a self-replicating pattern
that has repeatedly and randomly
been crushed and flattened.
It's a wonder we are here at all.

Our odds for survival were greater
if we were able to see, understand,
remember, and adapt,
and so we grew a brain,
slowly and relentlessly,
until we reached our current level of consciousness.

It's pretty clear that we won't stop developing for a long time,
for we have many faults and weaknesses,
and we are quite vulnerable
both to the natural extinctions of our past,
and the man-made extinctions of our future
powered by the same understanding
that we thought would save us.

We are still apes with clubs,
defending our territory,
intent on surviving on a planet
that we still believe has
only limited resources,
with not nearly enough to share.

And so,
two trends vie to control our future:
the growth of openness and understanding,
and the growth of power and fear.
We do not know which of these will win;
as I said, we are still evolving.

We are like a plant that eagerly
spreads its leaves and grows upwards
to gather the sun's energy,
while it simultaneously, but begrudgingly,
develops a root system to anchor its growth.
We may be fine
as long as the wind doesn't blow too hard
and we don't grow so tall that we topple
under our unsteady weight.

For myself, I am content
to exist in this minute
and to share
what understandings may come to me.

Individually, none of us will be here very long;
collectively, some of us may survive.
It's all a matter of balance.