The only resolution
Listening to the radio as I performed the day’s last medical procedure, I learnt that a rare event was occurring in the skies above. In my dressing gown with nought beneath, I had a compulsion to go out in to the dark where a cold wintery wind had blown the clouds away. Through the window I could see stars, it was exhilarating for since October we’ve only had the shortest of short spells of clarity between non-stop rain.
Moving through our bedroom, opening the door, I stepped outside and was instantly cold. With bare legs, if you can call these muscle-less pins that, with feet in slippers and frozen to the core, I stepped up the last flight of steps and arrived at our terrace which looms above it all and looks out over our own roof to the old town centre. What I saw was so exciting I hobbled back down to entice Camilla from the warm bed. Poor thing, it’s in moments like this that she must regret rescuing me from that boat in the Indian Ocean all those years ago.
Watching her wrap herself up drew me back to my senses, it is, after all, mid winter and I am not at all well, indeed, I’ve spent much of the week prone on the sofa, and I skipped down stairs and hauled on feather gilet and coat and was soon up and out with my beloved upon our floating slab of sandstone, imported, I must admit, from India, but it was the only affordable stone available as we renovated this property during lockdown.
Suddenly my world expanded from everything you have thus far read. Literally. Even the town lights reflecting off the moist air couldn’t diminish the startling array of lights in the sky. There was Saturn bright as a bunny’s eyes caught in headlights. And Mars, oh how salmon red you were. And the rest, bar Mercury and Pluto, strung out in a curve, a perfect Fibronachi spiral curling above us.
And the half moon so bright. Suddenly, we were both aware that we stood on a planet, an orb which hung in the middle of nowhere and that we were strung together with these other globes as we moved around the hidden sun whose light reflected off these glorious globes in the near universe. We were not alone. These our cousins, our cold relatives, a family held together by the immense sun and we could both see that we were circling our parent.
Three decades ago, when much fitter, walking across semi-desert at the edge of Kenya’s expansive savannah, just before the sun rose, my friend looked at me and said, “Your wife will now be walking towards the well to fetch the morning’s water.”
“No, she’s still asleep.” He stuck his spear in the dry earth and scolded, “Divorce her, we each play our part and must work hard for the family.”
“Oh, Marsarrit, she’s not lazy, it’s just that,” I hesitated, not wanting to ruin his view of the universe. “Ho, it is complex. But she’s a very good woman.”
“I am glad to hear it.” He peered at me, “go on, explain.” “I really think it’s not of consequence.” “I’ll decide that, tell me.”
“Oh, OK Marsarrit, but I may be entirely wrong.” And I explained what we believe to this man whose culture believes in a flat Earth. Having briefly been an ‘O’ and ‘A’ level geography teacher, I knew this wasn’t an easy subject for English pupils to understand. We stopped as I drew our solar system in the sand and Marsarrit, who, ‘uneducated’, spoke no English, got it in one. That was astounding. What intelligence. Until that moment he’d assumed Sun struggled all night to be freed from Mungai’s blanket as the god tried to hold him beneath the flat Earth; eventually, Sun won and dawn began yet again. Marvellous. A myth I hadn’t wished to ruin, but Marsarrit was convinced of the veracity of my myth and spent the day telling me what time it was back in England and what my wonderful wife was up to, according to his tribe’s routines.
So there we were, suspended upon Indian sandstone, above a Georgian town’s roofs, realising in a most graphic physical fashion that we were part of something enormous, something incredible, something quite stunning. It took my breath away. The cold biting my frail legs didn’t exist. Marvel filled my mind. For the first time in my entire life, I knew, viscerally, how small our solar system was, how tiny this Planet was, how minute England was, how microscopic I indeed was.
Yes, we have all done this exercise mentally, but to see it splayed out before you generated a powerful realisation which reached from our atom sized toes and out and in to the vast vastness of the vast universe. It was a Gestalt moment. Like no other.
And it made us realise, physically, how vital it is that we protect this small little green and blue haven so unique in the universe. This monumentally tremendous fact alone should make us wish to cherish every aspect of our abundant, yet rapidly dwindling ecosystems. That we make a resolution at this time of resolutions, to endeavour with all our will, not to do any more damage.
If we all did this it would work. If only we had all shared that empowering experience last night, we could turn this raving monster called Climate Change around and make our future less of a disaster. This, logic dictates, is essential, this must be our only resolution.
*If you could share the essence of this blog, or your own take on it, with as many people as possible, is the best way we attempt to motivate others, who’ll spread the word…. = the domino effect.