Prelude

This rock is alive.  Press your eye close enough to the glass and you’ll see us out here, flickering against the dark.  You, somewhere/time, may have awaited the twitch of our collective breath. Perhaps you’ve always known. But yes, this rock is alive.  Rustle your curtains so we can know you as well.


This world spends eighty-six thousand four hundred seconds on a singular, near-perfect pirouette, and then starts anew.  It never sleeps or even dozes.  Its shoulders never sag and its core is unfaltering. For four-and-a-half billion years, it has been turning, and turning, and turning again, slowing its rotation ever so slightly in anticipation of the grand finale.  It’s assisted by a moon, who hurries around it pulling just this way and that.  It gives specificity to the choreography, and the grateful dancer keeps it forever employed.

The movement unfolds under the direction of a magnificent star, who has placed the elegant dancer on a sweeping merry-go-round.  Steady yet at times temperamental, the pulsating ball of plasma sets the stage, calling out movements across tremendous distances to the other players in this ancient performance: twenty-six billion nine hundred twenty-seven million six-hundred sixteen thousand seven hundred twenty-six kilometers of other rocks, dust, gas, and emptiness.

Drama enlivens this planet, too.  We, the children, live on its skin, tickling its surface with rockets, trains, harvests, and wars.  You may not be able to see us (or maybe you always have), but we’re here and have been for billions of years, growing from flecks of chemicals in tumultuous oceans to the bipedal curiosities roaming the land we are today.  And there are others: creatures of every form imaginable, living and dying in numbers that never quite hold up to the scale of this physical and epistemic immensity between you and me.  Does it seem vast to you?

For the humans who drive this world’s most drastic changes, the monotony of this cosmological choreography is superhuman in resilience and inhuman in indifference.  At times this world creaks, rumbles, and smarts, but like the grumblings of an impatient stomach, its disruptions signal no lasting disturbance to itself.  For us, they foretell the End of Time.  Our time, that is.  We’re nothing if not self-centered.

But I write these for you Other out there, you Unknown, You.  These messages are our stories, our attempt to wrestle with a fleeting present as a transient species on a dancing rock that will eventually crumble.  I will likely never know if you are receiving these piecemeal like long-ago messages in a bottle, if you’ve discovered them in some unknown future, or if you hear now the clicking of these keys as I type.  Whoever you are, please accept these stories of an old stone and its children at play.

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