In the Grand Scheme of Things
I wrote the following a few months ago, after spending an hour or so trawling my Facebook feed which I use to gather environmental news, some of which I then share to help raise awareness of issues I care about:
“In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter what we do? Even if we poison, plunder, and populate till we are blue in the face (literally). Unless something apocalyptic happens, on a scale that is beyond our control (I’m thinking of an asteroid hitting this planet or the sun fizzling out), Earth will survive, the basic pre-requisites for life – sunlight, oxygen and water – will persist, and life will evolve again. Without us. That, at least, is a small consolation.
We are only making our own lives unbearable, if not impossible. No other species, I believe, has the capacity of envisaging the future of its children, of worrying about a time that is five years or a decade or a generation from now. Only we can predict, and comprehend, our incalculable loss. And yet, even with this gift, we do not do enough to prevent our downfall.”
Another day, I came across this quote from Helen Keller and promptly decided to make it my motto in life:
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
In sum, there are moments I’m a roller-coaster of emotions that represent these two extreme poles: I seesaw between despair (it’s not too strong a word), and profound admiration for the good things man can achieve if we put our minds to it. It’s exhausting. But most of the time I try to find, and manage, a fine balance between grief and hope.
When I look up from my writing, as I do now, my gaze falls on a smooth, chalk-white pebble on my desk, engraved with the word ‘Today’ in capitals. I have it to remind me of that old cliché: to live each day as if it were my last on earth.
In the grand scheme of things, that’s all I can do.