Going to the beach always reminds me that I live on a planet. The sheer scale of the ocean, the violence and power of surf breaking and pounding into the beach I kid myself that I can see the curvature of the planet on the ocean horizon, it gets me every-time. I find it too easy to imagine being on another planet somewhere in the cosmos.
Maybe its the eery finality of the west coast of Australia that triggers my beach soul searching, as Kerouac described the north west coast of the United States, it has “end of land sadness”.
Hanging on to the end of the world as you look out knowing the vastness of the great southern ocean is waiting below, it can feel abyss-like .
One of these pondering moments on the beach has triggered a reoccurring conundrum that I just can’t shake!
I just can’t stop thinking about circumstance and what has determined my existence, what chance has played in my life, the ineffable journey that fate has traveled in order for my mammal/carbon based-life support system to deliver my consciousness and to be able to express and reflect on it all right now.
What happened ten years ago, a job turned down, a relationship finished, the events twenty years ago? A chance meeting in a pub?
Do you ever think of the chain of events that got you here?
I’m from Irish heritage , my ancestors coming to Australia in the early 1840’s as a result of the potato famine of the time. As far as fate being thrown up in the air I couldn’t imagine a greater cataclysm then the migration of a people that happened in Ireland at the time.
Your life and times in a provincial village in the county of Fermangh could be said – and no disrespect meant – much more restrained and predictable then if you hopped on a boat and headed around the world to a distant and strange lands such as New South Wales.
How your mum met your dad, a great grand mother on holiday per chance and meeting great grand father at a dance? Back through the generations, branches of chance, paths chosen, the roll of the dice over and over and over that helped forge the correct circumstances that helped conceive you!
(speaking of conceiving, the chance of that little spermy reaching the egg is a whole other can-o-worms to think about)
How would the world of ended up if in 1907, the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts had accepted the application of a young Adolf Hitler instead of twice rejecting him and turning the surly mother cuddled slacker onto the streets to brood and fester?
The arrow of time streaming forward allowing multiple outcomes every second? Switching paths, fate, chance and destiny intertwining, interactions of cause and effect all allowing the future to be woven, Is that how it all works?
Or is it just all determinism? Destiny mapped out in some universal pattern – interlaced and embedded into the fabric of space an time. A path of fate that once started, cannot be changed?
Personally, it does my head in if I think about it. Its made me read everything from Bertrand Russell to Shakespeare and for this I’m happy.
Whatever you may think of the state of our planet, we are here – in an age of knowledge and communication that is unparalleled in the history of our species. The growth of our knowledge of the universe in the last one hundred years is incredible and just cannot be overstated. Look at 2012 alone, we have the incredible confirmation of the Higg’s boson (unlocking the secrets of the universe at the most fundamental level) and managed to put an SUV sized mobile science laboratory on the surface of Mars.
Its all gone on and allowed me to be here in this moment of time to be able to think, reflect and communicate about it. How many things that could have happened or not have happened, effected this in order for this moment to happen….arggggggggh it does my head in!!!!!!
The fact that I get reminded from the beach, that I’m part of the cosmos is a result of our ever increasing detachment from the natural world, but despite our ever growing mastery (for argument sake) of our environment, we are completely in the hands of a frighteningly capricious and unpredictable universe.
Chaos and random unimaginable violent acts is all part of a days work for the workings of said cosmos!
About 4.56 billion years ago a giant molecular cloud mostly made of hydrogen, helium and trace elements of lithium floated about and as they do, part of which began collapsing in on itself due to gravitational forces, creating dense fragments. Gravity makes the molecules close in on one of these fragments and start to spin faster and faster causing the atoms to bump into each other and the kinetic energy creating heat.
The center becomes denser and hotter than the outer cloud, the center becomes a hot dense proto star, then hydrogen fusion begins which is the therm o nuclear engine of our good old sun. The outer cloud flattens out into a disc and this matter that is trapped by gravity is the material that forms the planets and our lil old home Earth!
Studies of ancient meteorites in the solar system shows trace elements only made in super nova, this can suggest that a super nova created a shock wave that helped kick start this process of over density that was the genesis of our planet and solar system…..and you and I!
Super nova happens about every fifty years in our galaxy, so no star exploding shock wave no Bretskii?
Where does your bloody determinism start and begin?..I don’t buy it at scales of this magnitude?
Super nova the incredible destruction of a large, hard living, short lived star as its hydrogen reactor cannot hold off the effects of gravity and self implodes with the strength of a trillion trillion Hiroshima explosions!
I enjoy the fact that key heavier elements that are absolutely essential to the development of our planet-and our life-are only created in the catastrophic explosion that is involved in the death of a star!
The atoms in my fingers that tap away at this keyboard were formed in an unimaginable nuclear detonation somewhere in space, could the unpredictable chaos of this event must be somehow be embedded in us?
Our DNA, our fundamental make up has a rather dubious and unstable heritage? Does this explain our often chaotic and self destructive nature?
Without this huge explosive dice roll that kicked off the formation of our solar system, these finger typing atoms may say have ended up as crusty iron isotopes found beneath the cold frozen surface of a rather boring asteroid, orbiting a rather dull moon of an innocuous planet, that at best might produce a once in a millennium sulfur storm that an alien astronomer on a distant planet 200 million years later having observed – began to write a paper on – but realizing after a time, that the sheer boredom and complete lack of genuine interest that his work produced in fellow alien astronomers saw him disband-en his studies and seek out more exciting work….
Anyway enough of my more indulgent subjective pondering s, back on track please to more serious subjective pondering s…..
So before we have even got to having a star for our home to orbit, there is so many chances and outcomes that could have so easily turned out much different. Our rocky, watery planet formed out of the dust and matter that surrounded our newly formed sun about 4.54 billion years and took 20-30 million years to complete,eventually plonking itself into a rather cozy orbit.
The most agreed on explanation of how the moon became, was due to another exo-planet colliding with earth resulting in a huge chunk of earth swinging into orbit. If THIS random dice roll of fate hadn’t happened the stabilizing force of the moon which helps maintain our angular orbit , controls our seasons ,as well as tidal forces, which all rather helps and maintain a stable mammal breeding environment.
Fuck things were pretty hardcore back in those days, one only has to glance at the moon even with naked eyes, to see the scars of this violence that pock mark its face.
Meteorites and asteroids pummeled our planet at an incredible rate during a period known as the “Late heavy bombardment” . Lasting about 200 million years Apollo 14 visited the plains of Fra Mauro and scientist were able to determine the age and scope of this period.
It was due to the gas giants of Saturn and Jupiter forming and working out their orbits which caused gravitational surges and fluctuations .Without this chaotic period the multiple meteorites, comets and asteroids wouldn’t have delivered the key ingredients for our oceans and atmosphere, and Bretskii’s…
This type of violence continues throughout the solar system today although in a much smaller scope, and scientist have good reason to believe that other recent impacts have been responsible for mass extinctions throughout the planets life. An there is nothing to suggest that we won’t have another serious impact in the future!
In fact its believed that 99% of all life on earth has become extinct, and without this pattern of death, mammals would never have appeared. Dice dice baby! (sorry..)
About 73 000 years ago an enormous volcano eruption happened in Sumatra Indonesia causing a decade long volcanic winter. The Earth was already in an ice age, and this had an obvious impact on life on the planet. Homo sapien was reduced to barely 1000-2000 breeding pairs, a genetic bottle neck that has been observed from the study of DNA in mitochondria .
The lack of sunlight and temperature would have seen only the very hardiest of our species evolve maybe? Amazingly close to going the way of a lot of other species, where would the poor old planet be now if that volcano wiped us all out?
I thought by jotting down some facts and doing some research would allow me to get some closure or some form of clarity, but alas no. I’m abs-bloody-lutely astounded at the fact I’m here, that we are all here, that there’s a gentle sunlight coming in the window… I will check myself at the risk of sounding….no fuck it, its unbelievable that I’m/your/we are here!
But the irony of our modern western lives is that if we compare ourselves to the history of experience of our species, in a blink of an eye we have become gods! Water shelter food family health compassion safety all completely a given, completely controlled and easily accessed for the lager majority of our communities (again I’m talking of my life as a white male in Australia)Yet we can mope around feeling shitty about the traffic that held us up for twenty minutes (yes I’m looking at myself here too). But dang, we are here aren’t we?
Existence is pretty sweet, books, flowers, melted cheese, girls, music etc .
There must be a Roman or Greek fable about a bunch of lil god punks that ran around oblivious to their fortune and didn’t for a second think or appreciate their power only to pay the price from the god of fuck-Ur-whingey whiny-ass-up?
Maybe it’s about to be written somewhere?