We do not perceive a species’ extinction or survival in terms of punishment or reward because such a judgment would have a moral quality, inappropriate to the beasts. Yet, we do not treat ourselves or each other with such tenderness.
We wish to multiply and spread.
We are, each of us, imbibed with such uniqueness, such distinction from one another and from every last thing on this earth, in fact, that these things actually bear in on us, and we must make our place amongst them. We clear a space for ourselves by stretching our long limbs and claiming this piece of land. “This space, it is mine.” And, we are alone, and satisfied to reconstitute all those things in our imaginations, so that they become ours even when they are gone or hidden. We settle in our space, neatly trimmed, well defined, and we are full and sleepy.
We arise and consume the endless day, and we begin to see things that are not of this world, but are infinitely more real. Shapes take form out of the blankness, and the splendid now becomes eclipsed by the vast expanse of the beginning and the end. An unbearable heaviness settles on our minds.
We are responsible now. We begin the honest work of chiseling from the vast expanse small, neat, easy to carry, easy to count, easy to exchange units. These we very gladly, very matter-of-factly, hoist upon our shoulders, so we, each of us, can humbly partake in the lofty and grand enterprise of being responsible.
The memory of plenitude slowly fades from our mind’s world. In imperceptible degrees, the world became hard, it became sharp, it became unbearably hot, and unbearably cold, unbearably short and unbearably long.
We bravely crossed the chasm, away from the beasts, and met misery blankly on the other side. We only slowly sensed on all fronts scarcity. At first a few, then more and more, in a ripple, did we drop down to our knees in a desperate regret for all that had been lost.
I wrote this over 10 years ago. I am posting it during NaNoWriMo since my new writing energies are being sucked by that endeavor. The new writing is going very slowly, almost painfully. What have I gotten myself into? The featured image is Francisco de Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Son” (1819-1823). All works by Goya (1746-1828) are in the public domain.