Flipping the switch, or: On Beauty

Posted on September 8th, 2014 @ 19:55 in Uncategorized

So I had an interesting experience today, an epiphany of sorts. I was on a run along Castle Hill, one of my favourite part of the Downs, and I was listening to the latest episode of This American Life, specifically Act 3 about a young woman’s rather unusual life plans. If you want to listen to the episode, I recommend you don’t read on just yet but get yourself somewhere pretty and natury. Or somewhere urban if you prefer. But don’t listen to it at home, sitting at your computer. Nor in a coffee shop. Go outside. Then come back and tell me about it!

So anyway, I was listening to this girl Rose talking about her life plans and she’s being coy about it at first, talking about what she will miss (pizza for instance). All the while I’m running along this path with these amazing views and shooing sheep out of the way. There are a lot of sheep on Castle Hill right now! Anyway. It turns out Rose has signed up for a one way Mars mission. A mission to a dry, inhospitable planet with no chance of ever returning! She says at one point that she’s excited to see Earth from orbit and how that alone will make it worth it. But… no, no, no I thought. Never to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, the soft grass under your feet as you run through a green meadow, never to see this mundane, yet incredible beauty again – that is just crazy! This is such an indescribable pleasure, and I am so lucky to be able to experience it, just by running some 4 miles out from where I live – I’m not giving this up for anything!

And I realised then that I really wasn’t ready to give up this life. Which is… quite a shift for me. Not just from back when I truly, desperately wanted to stop being, when I wished for life to just end, but even from much more recently where I still had this attitude that… well, life is pretty good, and I am enjoying it, but were it to be over I wouldn’t kick a huge fuss (besides, I’d be dead, I wouldn’t know what I’m missing). In fact I was actively thinking that just a few weeks ago on the flight back from Frankfurt. We aborted landing really late (we were already pretty much above the runway) for “technical reasons”, and although it didn’t sound that serious and I didn’t really think we were gonna have to make an emergency landing on foam or some such drama, I did follow the “what if” line of thought and came to the conclusion “meh”. You know, it’d be a shame for sure, but I wouldn’t be hugely upset if my run on earth was over.

But today? No. I’m not okay with that. There is still far too much running through beautiful countryside to be done. You know, what a crazy and fortuitous coincidence that I was born and allowed to experience ALL OF THIS. I must not squander it, cuz I won’t get another chance.

PS. The Laniakea supercluster of galaxies that was in the news recently kinda gives the macro perspective. It’s terrifying – look at everything that’s out there, look how tiny we are! But it also makes you – or me at least – cling to the Earth (and life) all the harder. I fucking love this planet. It is mine, and it is mind-blowing.

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