The Awareness Shining Out Of Gaia’s Eyes

It took us eons to claw our way up from lifeless matter to consciousness. Our planetary lifestream has been pruned back five times that we know of since we came to life, but never before have we had any awareness of the process or control over it.

This time it’s different. We know ourselves in a way we never have before. We’ve gone into space and seen ourselves, our whole body floating in the darkness of space.

earthdec71972

This picture changed us. In the words of two astronauts:

“Beholding our planet from space has enabled us to see our place in the universe in a new way. For those who have seen the earth from space, and for the hundreds and perhaps thousands more who will, the experience most certainly changes your perspective. The things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us.” -American astronaut Donald Williams

“The first day, we pointed to our countries. Then we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day we were aware of only one Earth.” -Saudi Arabian astronaut Sultan Bin Salmon al-Saud

The history of the life of Earth is one of cooperation. Details and models differ, and this story I am telling right now can and probably will change tomorrow. It is difficult to remember where we came from, after all, and we learn more every day. But what was here in the beginning kept interacting with itself. Compounds combined to become self replicating, then kept combining to form amino acids, proteins, and eventually cells. Those cells kept it up, cooperating, ingesting each other, combining their talents and their functions to become ever more complex. We became one vast web, sharing what is here, nourishing each other, becoming each other, all the while part of a greater whole that is our glowing self, floating in space. We live an endless paradox, separate and one at the same time.

The most dangerous and damaging myth of all is that of our separateness. We cannot live without the rest of life, our very bodies are colonies of beings, the bacteria that break down the other beings that become us as they are consumed being but one example. We are all consumed when each of our individual lives ends because we are all part of everything else. We cannot be separate, every part of us must return to the whole to become something else in an endless dance. If you don’t believe me, just try to hold onto all that you are right now. How long can you hold your breath? Your bodily “wastes?” Your hair, skin, nails? Even enbalming is a temporary, desperate attempt to stave off of the inevitable process of being consumed as all that we are returns to where it came from. Our “separate” lives are a constant taking in and letting go, and we grow more complex as time goes on.

We have to think of all beings. We have grown so complex, so powerful, that we are determining the very shape of the whole. Our actions are determining which creatures live, and which die. Humanity is conscious of ourselves, we are aware of the very shape of our whole, but we have forgotten that we are only a part of it. We don’t yet realize that we are the arrow pointed at our chest. We don’t remember or know that cutting off the lives of entire species is another way of cutting off pieces of our own bodies. We know that an animal that outstrips the resource base that keeps it alive is heading for a population crash, or extinction, but we do not apply that knowledge to ourselves. We are different, separate, somehow exempt. We’re smart enough to find a way to survive.

I believe that we will, but I think that we will accomplish that by remembering who we are. If we can be the awareness shining out of Gaia’s eyes that we were evolved to be, we will work as part of that whole and survive. If not, we will go the way of the dinosaur and the trilobite, and earth will start that slow majestic climb toward consciousness once again.

We live in wonderful, terrible, pivotal times. What a gift it is to live here and now, to hold the world in our hands, to see the shape of it as no other creature ever has. Sit down, be still. Choose carefully, the future depends on it.

Rock Springs Is Dry

I feel like the one person the serial killer has freed so she can tell the world what happened. Only there’s no one to tell. No “crime” has been committed.

I went up to Mt.Tamalpais on Tuesday to get water from the spring. It’s something I do every few months, having living water on hand is something that appeals to the Druid in me and it’s a great excuse to go up and spend some time in the forest. This time the pipe was dry. I’ve never known this to happen before. I’ve been drinking from this spring since my teens and even on the hottest day in summer the mountain has always had a cool drink to offer.

It’s January and the pipe is dry.

The dry pipe at Rock Springs

It’s January and it looks like *August.*

The path to Rock Springs

I know droughts are part of life. That’s the story we keep telling ourselves anyway. But this one is part of a pattern. The climate is changing, catastrophic events are becoming the norm. In other words, this isn’t a catastrophic event, this is a catastrophe.  A slow one, so we can fool ourselves into saying it’s an isolated incident. We can avoid noticing what’s going on all around us. We humans have managed to throw enough carbon into the atmosphere and cut down enough trees to deform the jet stream.

This is a worldwide problem, of course, though we in the developed world have so far been lucky enough to escape the worst effects of it. Lucky enough, in fact that I can be so shocked when the beginnings of desertification appear on my own doorstep. We have dismissed the droughts in places like Ethiopia, Somalia and Syria as normal, if we’ve noticed them at all. Those places have always been deserts, as Sam Kinison, among others, have said. It’s a problem that we in the developed world have created, and we’ve taught the rest of the world to follow our example.

We’ve caused this, and this is the biggest blessing of all. We did this, and we can undo it. We know what needs to be done, and it’s well within our capabilities. All it will take is hard work, and it can even feel good if we choose to let it.

I wrote a song on my way back down the mountain. The long slow curves of the mountain road became a tune, and the terror I felt became a chant. When I hit the parking lot of Good Earth in Fairfax, to fill my water bottle, the verse began to break through with the ludicrousness of the fact that I had to ask two separate people in two different parts of the store for a source of cold water. Bottled water or any number of cold packaged drinks had stared me in the face from the moment I walked in the door. Back up the mountain I went, pulling off at turnouts and singing the bits into my iPad. A full first verse and scraps of the second and darkness was falling. Butt-in-BART-seat back and forth over the next day and it was done. I offer it to you as a warning and a call to action.

The Springs of Tamalpais

DISCLAIMER: The drain pipe of the Rock Springs fire hydrant is not potable according to Marin Municipal Water District. Consume at your own risk. I drink it, I’ve never been sick, but I am a nut. And that’s the saddest commentary of all, to me. Our springs and creeks are not safe to drink and we don’t even realize how insane that is.