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BIG TRAGEDIES vs THE ORDINARY, Part IV

§ November 2nd, 2009 § Filed under Chapter 37: Part IV of Big Tragedies vs The Ordinary § Tagged , , , , , , , § No Comments

          

This is ordinary khaki-colored beach sand under a microscope. The crystal gems are silica, the most common mineral in the Earth's crust. Can you imagine the origins of each grain? The forces that broke them down? That moved them to your feet? Try and see your place in a living universe. And see it all connected. There is only one thing. And it is all connected to you. Take a breath, it's just beginning.

This is ordinary beach sand under a microscope. The crystal gems are silica, the most common mineral in the Earth's crust. Can you imagine the origins of each grain? The forces that broke them down? That moved them to your feet? Try and see your place in this living sphere. And try to see it all connected. There is only one thing. And it is all connected to you. Take a breath, it's just beginning.

           All through that single night, See Do’s lesson continued. Now he wanted me to better see the planet we ride on.

           The Earth is a moving and dynamic system. It is incredibly vibrant and powerful. It only works to support life so well because it has a wealth of natural processes that cleanse and balance and re-nourish it.

           We must respect these processes and know that there are countless untold benefits that cascade from their actions.

           The Earth moves beneath our feet. The continents collide and subduct. Mountains are thrust up. Basins sink under their own accumulated weight. Water is pushed through solid rock. Minerals coalesce in veins. We find coal and gold and ores. We walk beaches of bleached silica. The planet is kind and helpful beyond any measure of our apparent deserving. Not only is everything here that any industrious and clever being might ever need, it’s all been neatly arranged. There are places where diamonds actually shoot out of holes in the ground to be found by anyone wandering by.

           Ores find their way together. Uranium yellowcake appears deep in the Earth as chalky fossils of ancient tree limbs, having replaced the decayed plant long ago.

           Water tumbles over the surface and carries away dirt and whatever else is lying loose. This sediment is dropped off again when the water slows. This changes the faces of mountains and moves huge masses of land to new places. This shifting weight can tilt huge pieces of real estate. And suddenly. Mountains rise. Basins sink.

           And deep below us is a far greater energy. We and our continents float on an inner planet of blazing liquid rock that oozes under pressures and at temperatures we can scarcely imagine. Vast, slow moving plumes of heat energy, not unlike the columns of warm air driving the hurricane, roil and swirl beneath us. We’re all actually riding atop slow-motion storm clouds of molten rock.

           This energy moves pieces of earth and rock as large as continents. Driven on these plumes, these plates collide and crash. They side swipe and crumble. One dives under another, to disappear into the molten muck miles below.

           Occasionally, this liquid, this magma, does reach the surface in volcanic fury. Mountains have been turned to dust before the eye. Islands have exploded and sank into eternity. And new islands have been born.

           Deeper still, twirls a ball off crystalline iron that anchors our place in the heavens. This spinning egg is a dynamo of energy. It is the mother of the magnetic fields that envelop us, reaching out into space many tens of thousands of miles. This shield of invisible electromagnetic current protects all life on Earth from a bombardment of high energy rays and ionizing particles streaming through the cosmos. Without it, Earth would be continually baked by the biting radiation of the stars.

           So there is a price to pay for being on a living planet in motion. She organizes, refreshes and creates a landscape of magnificent beauty. But the ground will move. There will be earthquakes. We are at a point where we know the earthquake zones and can accurately map the fault lines that have quivered in the past. And the good news is that these are, geologically, very quite times. The Earth has within it the obvious power to shake us all to our knees. But she doesn’t often do that. She is good to her charges. Things are in good balance.

           And despite the headlines, an earthquake is a hard thing to be killed by. Standing alone, even a large thrust may knock you off your feet, but unless the ground splits beneath your feet and you fall to your death, it is very unlikely that you might suffer serious injury. What kills people in earthquakes are falling buildings. The works of man crumble against this power and topple onto the trusting souls within. Globally, people resist the need to build structures that can withstand the shocks they know are coming.

           It’s expensive. Who will pay? People and their families pay the price of a planet in motion.

           Four years ago, on October 7th, 2005, over 30,000 people were killed in Pakistan and Kashmir in a single quake measuring 7.9 on the Richter Scale. Most were crushed under collapsing human structures. Many of these buildings made of mud and rock. Against the force driving out of the ground they crumbled, killing scores without warning. Others were trapped inside, bleeding, dying of heat, shock, dehydration and untold injuries.

           California knows. Many people of the world know. Someday a large earthquake will strike. Maybe today. Maybe not for a hundred years. Maybe both.

           More hurricanes will sweep the east coast and gulf states. But every day more people move into these areas. It is easy to see that it would be very difficult for emergency services to keep pace with the potential need. Everyone knows, but still they come. We love the warm. We love the water. And the hurricanes will come too.

           All these foldings and unfoldings create an infinite mix. A perfect soup from which life arose and continues to nourish itself. Sometimes, from our living point of view the movements of the planet can seem unjust and indifferent. And sometimes it is very hard to take a wider view. But, See Do asked, please try and see.

— continued (Next: Part V: Looking at life within us and seeing a big message. Then later this week See Do sums it up in Part VI. You won’t want to miss it!)

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