Monday, December 31, 2007

Four and a Half Billion Years...

... so science tells us, since the birth of our lovely planet.

Beautiful, no? Another two billion, give or take, before it dies--assuming that our troublesome species doesn't find some way to blow it to smithereens before then. Now, I'm no judge of the exactitude of the science, but I'll buy into the general premise. Those billions seem more credible to me than the few odd thousand allowed by the Bible literalist crowd, not to mention the scant few left before their purported Rapture. "Modern man" has been around for a mere 40,000 to 50,000 years, so far as I can tell--the blink of an eye in the history of the planet. It's only 2,500 since the Buddha walked the byways of India with his followers, and a handful more than 2,000 since Jesus did the same in the Holy Land. So much for the stories we tell ourselves to assure our significance in the grand scheme of things.

And our little planet in relation to the vast universe? A grain of sand is surely immense in comparison. Like everything else, it is born, it ages, and it dies.

All of which, on New Year's Eve, offers me a healthy serving of humble pie. I tuned in last night to the History Channel's How the Earth Was Made and was awed by this two-hour program about the story of the planet. What a perspective this science offers on those things that seem of the most lasting importance to us, and on the brevity of our little lives! How short the journey that we take, from our arrival on Earth to the time of our departure! With the reminder of those immeasurable reaches of time and space that surround us on all sides--and off into the past and future--how infinitesimal this right-now moment seems! And yet, how wonderful and vital, since it's all we have.

So, well, it's goodbye to 2007, just one more added to those four and a half billion! We do, I think, learn more about our species as we go. Our consciousness continues, amazingly, to expand. There's still time enough for us to fulfill the better aspects of the human potential, rather than the worse, and I certainly plan to continue my own efforts to be that better, wiser and more generous person in the coming year. I'm also comforted by knowing that there are many, many more like me, and that we are in conversation with each other in numerous ways.

Thanks for joining me. I'll see you all in 2008...! Happy New Year's Eve!


robin andrea said...

What a grand contemplative perspective for New Year's Eve, peter. I like starting from the most ancient view of the planet, and then seeing the small turn of one day, one year. Hope the new year brings us peace.

khengsiong said...

Happy New Year!

Nigel said...

Hi Peter,

Let's hope that more people decide to try to rid themselves of greed, hatred and delusion in the coming year. Looking round, though, I have to agree with Christopher Hitchens in 'God Is Not Great'; discussing the argument from design, he says "---from the patterns of behaviour that are observable, we may infer a design that makes planet earth, all unknown to us, a prison colony and lunatic asylum that is employed as a dumpimg ground by far-off and superior civilizations."

Happy New Year,