By Gene Twaronite
Ever since the Oxford English Dictionary people proclaimed “selfie” as their word of the year for 2013, I’ve been struggling to find a way to use it in one of my essays. It would not be my first choice.
As a word, it has all the charm of that scummy ring of hairs at the bottom of your bathtub drain. But in writing, as in life, sometimes one just has to go with the flow.
So, I got to thinking about what kinds of photo self-portraits ol’ Mother Nature would post, assuming she had a smartphone. They might go something like this. …
Here I am sitting by a tidal pool at the start of it all — over three and a half billion years ago — when life first appeared on this planet. Welcome to my kitchen. They’re too tiny to see now, but in these waters chains of complex molecules are slowly coming together. Wait till you see what they become.
And here I am at the bottom of the sea during what you humans call the Cambrian Period. It was one of my favorite times, when the diversity of living things on this Earth literally exploded. Paleontologists have discovered more than 20,000 different species from every continent. Must confess, I got a bit carried away with cute little critters. They were the first animals with complex eyes. They ruled the seas for nearly 300 million years, and then they were gone. Oh well, time to move on.
Here’s me riding a Triceratops — yippee, ride ’em, cowgirl! We’re nearly at the end of the Mesozoic Era when dinosaurs of every description ruled the Earth. I have a little surprise for them.
You see this big shadow where I’m standing? I’m on what humans will later call the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. It’s going to get dark around here real fast. That’s because a huge asteroid is directly overhead. When that puppy hits, all those dinosaurs will be history. Have to admit, I hate to see them go. But 165 million years is long enough. Out with the old, in with the new, I say.
Here I am at the beach under clear blue skies again. Boy, my “little” asteroid sure made a mess of things. Couldn’t see the sun for years. It got so cold I had to put on my woolies. But it’s over now, and we’re at the beginning of the Cenozoic Era. OK, I admit, there were a lot of casualties besides the dinosaurs. Over three-quarters of all living things on earth went extinct. Evolution is a messy business, and sometimes you just have to hurry things along a little. But fortunately, I still have plenty of stuff to work with. See my squirrel-like animal friend here? He doesn’t look like much. But he and his warm-blooded kin are about to become the next big thing. Humans sometimes refer to this era as the Age of Mammals, but it could also be called the Age of Flowers. Just look at the beautiful magnolia in back of me.
I’m standing at the edge of Grand Canyon, one of my most sublime creations. It gets more hits on Facebook than Madonna or Justin Timberlake, whoever they are. It still amazes me after all these years what you can accomplish with a little uplift and erosion.
Here’s Lucy and me lakeside in what humans now call Ethiopia. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s going to be famous someday. Smile for all your future followers, Lucy. There, I got it — great one. She’s not much for words, but she’s one of the earliest humans. Soon she will die — sorry, Lucy — for life was very hard back then, especially if there’s a big cat like the one over there that’s about to eat you. In about 3.2 million years, give or take a month, human scientists will discover some of her bones and go gaga over them.
Think I’ll go online to check out what pix you humans are posting these days. Oh dear — what is that? It looks like somebody’s … gross! And there’s more. After all these years I thought there was nothing that could shock me. I was wrong. What are you people thinking? Hmm. … Maybe it’s time for another asteroid.
©Gene Twaronite 2014
Gene Twaronite’s writing has appeared in numerous literary journals and magazines. He is the author of “The Family That Wasn’t,” “My Vacation in Hell,” and “Dragon Daily News.”
Follow Gene at TheTwaroniteZone.Com.