Submitted by Aaron Arkin.
I love being me. I mean, what’s not to like. Spinning, revolving, shuffling through different neighborhoods. I’ve been at this a long time. It’s been a blast. Seemed like forever it was just me doing accretion, heating up, cooling down, that sort of thing. Eventually figured out I do have neighbors: not that we visit. Some are a lot bigger than me. But at 13 billion trillion tons, I’m no lightweight. Besides, if you look at these other guys, they’re either pompous gasbags or dull-colored chunks of rock, ice, and dust. Look at me and you see marvelous saturated colors, changing all the time.
Did I mention that for a long time I was on my own? But after what seemed a millennia, I started to accumulate these little creatures. And I mean “little,” and so many of them. Even today they’re my favorite and, incidentally, the predominant form of life here (by number, weight and volume). Life; go figure! And why are there so many? The simple answer: replication. And I mean sex, everywhere and all the time. It just tickled me: still does.
Then they started to do something really strange. They began combining and getting bigger. And before you could say, “Early Cretaceous” I had gardens: gardens! Who knew? At first, they seemed a lot to take care of, but it’s not like I didn’t have time on my hands (so to speak). O.K., so now I’m into gardening and guess what? I like it. Not only are they pretty, sweet-smelling, and ever-changing, but I have to admit they’ve softened my rougher edges. And I like experimenting with them: so many possibilities. O.K., early on I did make a few mistakes: didn’t realize the crustal shifting thing would hurt (O.K., kill) so many of them. But I’ve stopped doing that (for the most part), and I’d like to think all is forgiven.
More recently, things have changed, and drastically. Now I have much larger creatures that move around and appear to enjoy feasting on each other. It’s not a pretty sight but over time, they seemed to have come to some sort of accommodation that allows them to coexist in a manner they find more or less pleasant, at least when they’re not being made a meal of. They also do sex. But it’s not as much fun for me as with the teensy guys. First of all, they make too big a deal of it, second, they don’t do it as often, and third, they’re really noisy.
Again, once I’d adjusted to it everything seemed to be going along swimmingly: until it didn’t. That’s when this latest creature arrived. I can’t tell what it’s thinking (or if it ((they)) are thinking) but things are definitely out of whack and moving in the wrong direction. The gardens are not doing well and even the teensy guys are stressing. Some days it’s like everything is going down the tubes. I feel a lot of pressure to take some sort of corrective action. I had considered major crustal shifts (worked pretty well before) but this would take a long time, and now with my precious gardens, I would find the damage disheartening. Besides, I’m getting “long in the tooth” as some might say, feeling stiff and not as agile as I once was. So, major crustal shifts would be a pretty hefty lift.
My Ice Ages tools had also worked relatively well in cleaning things up in the past, so I had considered giving that a try. But these recently-arrived little buggers heated up my skin and nitrogen-oxygen layer so much, that option is now off the table. As a last resort I enlisted my tiniest denizens to do sneak attacks on the creatures. But these efforts have become protracted and are not going well:the little guys are experiencing a lot of casualties.
What to do; what to do? In the larger scheme of things and taking the long view, I finally decided this problem is ephemeral. So, I’m going to ignore it (and them) and let this foolishness play out to its inevitable end-game. Besides, did you know the entire neighborhood is going to be moving out? You may not know this about me, and this has always been a source of worry, but my successful path through The Universe is far from guaranteed. In addition to spinning, revolving, and the home neighborhood rotating around a giant center, I and the whole agglomeration are traveling away from all other giant neighborhoods at lightning speed. For those of you with mathematical inclinations, I’m spinning at 1000 mph, revolving at 67,000 mph, rotating around the giant center at 490,000 mph, and the whole neighborhood is hot-footing it at 2,236,936 mph. While it’s not light speed (670,616,629 mph), considering my various trajectories, I’m moving along at a pretty good, albeit somewhat wobbly and possibly dangerous clip.
But I’ve recently learned there is a really wonderful opportunity here. While just about everybody is moving away from everybody else, there are some exceptions. Turns out I reside in an anomaly. Due to the vagaries of time and space (who knew “space” was a thing?), in the not-to-distant future (my time-line, not yours) our whole neighborhood will collide with Andromeda. Happily, I’ve been advised the chances of actual body-to-body contact are remote. Turns out that there is so much distance between objects that we will just pass through each others’ space. But ultimately, and thanks to gravity, I will likely wind up safely in one completely brand new and giant configuration. Don’t you get it? The big neighborhood will be forever and completely changed: new sights, new skies, new members, new adventures.
We’re going to Andromeda!! I’m so excited.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.
Joan Campion says
Eons past and future in a few paragraphs. Very imaginative perspective.