Literary Yard

Search for meaning

Our Relationship with the Future

By:  Raymond Greiner

A few months ago I was researching for an essay on the cycles of the sun learning about the billions of years it has taken to achieve its present size, and its continual expansion, eventually achieving a red giant phase and then diminishing in size becoming a white dwarf star. I mentioned this study to a correspondent and how earth will perish during the red giant phase as the sun encompasses the earth’s orbital zone. His response: “Why is this important? None of us will be alive.”

Of course his observation is partly correct, we will not be here, but the importance of the distant future and distant past has bearing on present day life. If it were not for evolutionary cycles we would not be alive. Therefore, what happened early on created now, created us. At this historic point we represent the present, and as a species project an influential force driving forward toward the future, and possibly a distant future. The cycles of the distant past plants a notional seed germinating into what has occurred thus far and what can be predicted to happen, thereby profoundly influencing Earth’s inhabitants during the human period. Our lives are enhanced by an awareness of planetary movements and the magnitude of the past, present and future. Knowledge of Earth’s timeline adds dimensional thoughts, creating spiritual consciousness as well as real time cognition of life on our planet, its meaning and purpose.

My dogs, Orion and Venus, and I have a few favorite trails in the nearby state forest, and one-trail transits the bank of a creek, Burkhart Creek. This creek meanders, and one particular turn offers a nice resting point. The forest workers have placed a picnic table there, but it is seldom used, because this is a hike-in spot and the typical picnic folks are drive up oriented; so, this spot is sort of our personal place. There is sedimentary build up on the inside portion of the creek’s turn, where we have discovered several geodes.

Geodes occur in abundance in only five states: Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky and Utah. They are mostly baseball size or a bit larger, round stones with hollow interiors composed largely of quartz. Rock hounds collect them, saw them in half exposing the glitter of the internal quartz, and then polish the edges for use as paperweights or other ornamental functions. Geodes are products of geological activity during the Mississippian Age, and are approximately 340 million years old. As I hold one of these discoveries in my hand, the sensation of its long history magnifies the emotion of the moment. This geode was intact, as it is now, when the first humans appeared 2-3 million years ago, and it was 337-338 million years old at that time. It challenges the imagination to fathom such a span of time.

Living organisms offer us a more personal connection, relating to timelines, with less imaginary strain. The giant Sequoia is one example of grasping the reality of time as a comparison to present day. The General Sherman tree (a Sequoia) is between 2300 and 2700 years old. The Sequoias were slaughtered by human intervention during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and were threatened with extinction. The Sequoias are not the oldest trees, but are likely the most spectacular of the older species. There is one spectacularly beautiful evergreen Cyprus tree in Iran, the Zoroastrain Sarv that is 4500 years old about the same age as Stonehenge. The oldest known living tree is a bristle-cone pine named the Methuslah Tree (4700 years old) located in Inyo National Forest in California, it was alive when the first pyramid was built.

Why is all of this meaningful? I believe that knowledge of life and its cycles in relationship to time allows perspective, opening truths and knowledge that can be applied to our journey as a species. We have stumbled in so many ways as we make our walk with time, gaining balance and stability as our timeline gains momentum and understanding. Destruction must become more vivid regarding its power to languish and stagnate. If we are to be a presence similar to the geode we must adjust to the challenge of longevity, blend antiquity with destiny. It seems possible.


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