Friday, April 4, 2014

A race of stubborn little things


"So, where does that leave us then, in our present? 

Maybe all any one of us can do is push against the baseline as it shifts.

We can be a tiny counterweight. We weigh almost nothing but generation after generation, that weight ads up. Sometimes in some places the baseline starts to shift in the other direction; in the direction of more beauty, not less, but that happens incrementally too. It can be hard to notice.

So picture that scene at JFK again, all those turtles. When Hornaday was born, they were closed to extinction, being hunted because they tasted so good in soup. We’re like those turtles: a race of stubborn little things that barely notices as the wilderness it migrates through, fills up with villages and lights and swells into an airport runway. Just keep migrating across it anyways, tucking the eggs of the next generation into the sand.

And we’re like the airplanes too, 'cause we have changed, we changed into something Hornaday could never have imagined: a species that at least tries to slow down, try to stop.

I like to think about those airplanes powering down, the lines of them parting like a shiny metallic sea, so this tiny tribe of turtles can pass through.

I get it. It looks funny in the present. But squint into the hazy panorama of history and those airplanes idling in place, that little moment of not moving forward, looks, unmistakably to me, like progress."

-Jon Mooallem from his book Wild Ones

You can hear an excerpt of it on 99% Invisible. I have listened to these final five or so minutes of that episode so many times since its release when I feel lost in all the future that is happening around me.

Like today.

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