Book of Days: May 7, Definition of Success

Some things you’ll never forget, like the feeling of the winter wind on your face, or sun-warmed dirt in your hands. The way you could hear voices from the neighbouring farm on a clear day, even though they’re far enough away you could leave at lunch and arrive just in time for dinner. The way the sunrise looked on the horizon in the autumn, when all the world seemed to be putting on its best colour display.

These are the things you’ll never forgot, and will never experience again. I can remember, what it was like back when we had such things. No one thought they’d ever go away. That was just the way the world was, and we were very good at making sure the world stayed the way we wanted it. Very good, but not perfect, and we finally hit a point where we’d done more damage than our descendants could fix and ran out of road to kick the can down.

People like to look back on those times and declare our solutions a success, but it’s nonsense. Success would have left us with a world, damaged but healing. It would not have left us orbiting the dead husk of the planet we’d once ruled, a small portion of the people who once existed. Our existence isn’t a thing to celebrate, it’s an escape, surviving our failure.

Better, I suppose, than the opposite, though I know there are days when people do not agree with even that. I try to keep an open mind about the whole thing. We failed the planet, yes, but we survived, and maybe we aren’t done yet. It’s still down there, hopefully recovering, though I don’t know if it will ever welcome us back. Maybe it has learned its lesson now, the experiment of life a failure, and will never again create the circumstances required to sustain it.

But there are those of us who have finally turned our mind to the problem of helping it along. Those of us who think it would be best to one day return, despite the fanatics who are rising up to declare humans were always meant to live in space. That will be a tricky thing to navigate, should we succeed, but I suppose I’m as bad as my ancestors, for I’m leaving that problem to the future. In the meantime, I do my part by talking against it, by reminding people of those things you, we, all will never forget.

The scent of the air after a storm. The majestic peaks of far away mountains. The way you could take in a deep breath and not choke on it. Even the feeling of gravity, holding us to the planet that cared for us. All of these things are a part of who we are, settled deep within our bones, and even as the lack of gravity weakens our skeletons, we feel it still.

One day, the Earth will heal. One day, we will have the choice to go back. One day, we will face the dilemma our ancestors faced: to care for the planet or kill it. We can make a better choice.

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by | May 7, 2021

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