Mars and misfortune
I have met with some unexpected tragedies this past week as car accidents either injured or claimed the lives of beloved relatives. My father told me the news on both counts. He said how grateful we should be for each day, as life is so precious, but it only reminded me more of our mortality.
I think of all that's happened this summer, all the contradictions of a resurrected community garden and my niece's first months on this Earth, contrasted by the ruin and rape of the cradle of civilization, the forests of British Columbia going up in flames, thousands expiring of heat in France, news of coral reefs, ancient and vast, disappearing within our generation, and our personal tragedies and near death experiences of friends and family. Even David Kelly's suicide, the esteemed UK weapons expert, has been shocking, personalizing the high drama of this spring with his final walk in the woods.
It all seems too much, and the fact that Mars, the red planet and god of war, will be at its closest in 60,000 years strikes me as not too surprising. I can already see how bright it is, a steady red dot shining in the firmament, made especially clear by the recent blackout. To think it hasn't been closer to Earth in all the history of homo sapiens sapiens is quite remarkable.
Here's the details:
At 5:51 a.m. EDT on Aug. 27, 2003, Mars will be within 34,646,418 miles (55,758,006 kilometers) of Earth. This will be the closest that Mars has come to our planet in nearly 60,000 years.
But no matter how terrible life gets, I see that life goes on. Recently, scientists discovered microbes that can survive temperatures of up to 121 degrees at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. This has led to renewed speculation that life could have flourished elsewhere such as on Mars. The incredible growth in our garden, with plants sprawling in all directions groping for sun and rain further reminds me of life's resilience and yearning. To see all life striving to live and unfold its biological potential dispells much of the gloom and does much to create a feeling of connection to all living things -- past, present, and future. I draw some solace from this even as our world dies a little more each day, and our loved ones slip from our grasp one by one until our own turn comes to rejoin the cosmos.
Looking at things this way helps, but our human memories quite rightfully remain. And then there are gems like this obit of an amazing woman.