I wrote this on Saturday but a confluence of unexpected things have kept me from posting, including (in no particular order) poor sleep, being sick, thyroid issues, and being worried about a friend undergoing an unexpected surgery:
The part of me that grew up watching Star Trek still believes that a society that cares for the wellbeing of all its people is possible. The human race has had many innovations and will have many more. We can come together for the good of all, but only if we put that good above the desire for money and power. And that’s where the Star Trek part of me steps back and I’m left wondering if human nature is too selfish as a whole to make such a shift.
I’m still not feeling particularly like Storying so here’s an important poem by Shane Koyczan, called Shoulders. I found the words online and corrected some mistakes, but I’m sure the lines aren’t broken up the way the poet wrote them. It you prefer, you can listen here.
Like many, I love to look at the stars.
I love the fact that ours is just one among many.
What I love about astronomy is that our constellations tell a story.
Our constellations were born from mythology.
Mythology was our first attempt to understand the world in which we live.
We put a god in everything and those gods would give us our reasons.
Why is the sky blue?
Who chose blue?
How come men have nipples?
It’s the will of the gods.
Why does this wine taste so good?
There’s a god in it!
And for a while, there was not a single thing that the gods could not explain.
We believed that their anger gave us lightning;
Their despair gave us rain.
We whispered our desires to them, believing that their charity would sustain us.
But those gods… were just stories.
But stories became a large part of how we learn.
They burn lessons into our memories.
They become a part of how we remember; and we can remember almost everything,
Right down to that first unbearable bee sting
When we learned that this tiny blue marble we call the world has rules.
Rule number one: don’t fuck with the bees!
An unforgettable lesson brought to you by your memories.
I remember that I grew up loving mythology.
I remember the story of the titan Atlas, who was also the god of astronomy.
The original global positioning system sending sailors safely home by telling them which constellations to keep starboard.
He taught us about the stars, and did all this, while he held up ours.
Our pale blue dot.
But Atlas is caught between two different tellings of his story.
In the first, he leads a rebellion against Olympus and is then sentenced to hold the heavens on his shoulders for eternity.
In the second story, he is chosen to be the guardian of the pillars that hold up the earth and sky.
I prefer the second story.
It means that the world is not a punishment, but rather, a responsibility.
But how can just one be charged with such a burden?
How can just one be responsible for all this?
When I think of Atlas, I think of a single drop of rain.
I think how unfair it would be to hold a single drop solely responsible for making the entire world clean again.
I remember how my grandmother tried to explain our world to me.
She told me a story.
She said the ground and the sky, they love each other,
But they don’t have arms
So rain, that’s just how they hold one another.
I began to see how the earth and sky need each other.
But I wondered about us.
In this perfect design, where do we fit?
Which piece of the puzzle are we?
Like constellations, I began to see a connection between dots and numbered my thoughts
And drew lines from one to the next.
I began to see us in the context of a bigger picture, sharpening the blur slowly into focus.
We are Atlas.
I saw that this pale blue dot, this one world, is all we get.
There will be no reset button, no new operating system, or downloadable upgrade.
We will not be allowed to trade in our old world for a new one with climate control or better fuel efficiency.
We get one shot at this.
Dismiss all reports of second chances; we get one.
And yet we draw advances on our future as if we one day won’t be held accountable.
The human race runs toward a finish line emblazoned with the words ‘too far’ and wonders,
Will we ever cross it?
Have we already?
We are faced with the seemingly impossible talk.
And it’s okay to be afraid.
Our dilemma stands before us like a mountain carved into a blockade; the sheer magnitude of our problem would be enough to dissuade anyone.
How do we save the world?
We lay in our beds curled into question marks, wondering
What can we do?
Where do we start?
Is hope a glue crazy enough to hold us together while we’re falling apart?
The burden seems immense.
But we can do this.
We must take the martial arts approach to loving our planet.
Love as self-defense.
Forget about the cost.
There will be no other thing as worth saving as this!
Nothing more important, nothing as precious;
This is home.
All of our stories start and end here.
We are sheltered within an atmosphere that has given us every breath we will ever take.
Every monument we will ever make has come from the flesh of our planet.
Water like blood, skin like soil, bone like granite.
It is not a myth, there is no debate, facts are in.
Fact is, there’s never been any question.
We are facing crisis.
We dismiss the truth not because we can’t accept it, but because having to commit ourselves to change is a scary prospect for anybody.
The most alarming part of the statement ‘we are facing crisis’
Isn’t the word ‘crisis’,
It’s the word ‘we’.
Because those two letters take the responsibility away from one and rest it squarely on the shoulders of everybody.
We are Atlas now.
But our strength will come from finding a way to share in shouldering the responsibility of turning the impossible into somehow
Somehow, we will do this.
We can do this.
We can dismiss apathy; we can reject uncertainty.
We can be the new chapter in our story.
We will not see change immediately.
We must act in faith as the hour hand grips the minute hand and they land on the eleventh hour.
We must believe like the seed that change is possible.
The seed never sees the flower; it grows knowing that it must become more than what it was.
It changes, because in growth, all of its potential can be unlocked.
Change is like rain, it starts with a single drop.
Just one, like our pale blue dot.
Caught in an endless waltz called gravity, we circle the sun, wondering who, if anyone left the light on.
We are constellations drawn upon the earth, we are connected to one another, we are bound.
We must behave as the arms that connect the ground to the sky.
We must try to be more like the rain.
Our stories may differ, our goal is the same:
How do we save our pale blue dot?
We act as the rain, realizing that each individual drop is as equal and important as any.
We act as one.
Now, we are many.– Shane Koyczan