By Gene Twaronite
Developing an appreciation for the natural world offers many benefits, not least of which is that it keeps us from going insane.
Did you ever have one of those days when you’ve just been fired from your job, and you come home to an empty, filthy apartment only to find a note from your girlfriend telling you she’s leaving you for a body builder in Samoa? And you try to grab some beer and find there is none because someone has stolen your refrigerator? Then your doctor calls with some really, really bad news? Keeping your chin up under such circumstances is no easy task unless you are an unfeeling machine or have the intestinal fortitude of Job or, better yet, have learned to maintain a natural perspective.
A natural perspective is a way of seeing things in terms of our relationship to that larger time frame and sphere of existence we call nature. In the afore-mentioned case, for example, instead of dwelling on your crappy karma, you can take heart that you are still alive as opposed to the estimated 150-200 species of life that go extinct every 24 hours. And you can be thankful that you’re not living during the infamous Permian-Triassic extinction event, when some 90-96 percent of all species of life on Earth bit the dust, so to speak. The human species is still around, so far, and so are you. So be of good cheer. Not being extinct definitely has its advantages.
Or you might consider that your probable lifespan is considerably longer than any species of mayfly, whose lifespans range from 30 minutes to a day. And while you might think winged male ants (or drones) lucky in that they spend their entire lives eating and mating, take heart that few live longer than several weeks. Remember, you could have been born a gastrotrich — a tiny aquatic animal that lives only three days. Unlike these other organisms, you still have plenty of time left to screw up again.
Just don’t get too cocky about this. Most trees will live longer than you. And so will some animals, such as certain tortoises and fishes. There is even a kind of ocean clam said to live 400 years.
You might also give thought to ol’ sol — the source of life on this planet, not to mention suntans, wrinkly skin, and skin cancers. Scientists estimate that it has been around for about 4.5 billion years, going through about 500-600 metric tons of hydrogen each second just so Earth can intercept its tiny fraction of total energy output and allow you to soak up some rays at the beach.
At this rate, you might ask, could the sun burn itself out before you die? Not to worry. It is estimated that the sun has at least another 4 or 5 billion years before it uses up all of its hydrogen.
Of course, long before that, there may be a few other issues of concern.
As the sun gradually uses up its hydrogen, it will slowly become brighter and larger, so much so that in about 1.1 billion years it will completely dry out the earth’s atmosphere, making all the world’s real estate virtually worthless. And in 2-3 billion years, temperatures on earth will become too hot even for those with oxygen tanks. And after that, the sun will probably expand into a red giant, engulfing all the inner planets including Earth.
So whatever happens to you in this miniscule time span we call a life, don’t worry. It can’t be as bad as being swallowed up by a red giant.
© Gene Twaronite 2013
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.