I’ve long been reaching for the perfect metaphor for the combined natural forces I think of as Gaea. A rubberband ball is the closest I’ve come. Now, even better is this ball encased in netting. So that there’s a second layer of holding-together.
Gaea is the primordial Greek goddess personifying Earth. She doesn’t need to be Greek to be recognized on most every continent. (If Antarctica ever had a primordial culture no one remembers it.) For me Gaea encompasses both lifeforce and ocean currents. I can’t see her as a goddess in robes as I did in childhood, but as a palpable zinging reality nonetheless.
She is not only a clump of violets in the woods, an arch carved out of rock off a coast, but more thrilling to me she is the epitome of change. She goes on. She is one instance of violets begetting another patch, a rock arch crumbling into unorganized debris. Think when New Hampshire’s iconic Old Man of the Mountain’s craggy face slid away. A mountain’s process of being a mountain, but in human hearts a loss.
You’ve heard of the Butterfly Effect? Part of Chaos Theory in mathematics. The influence of the barest down-stroke of a butterfly wing in a Malayan meadow can influence the actual facts of a tornado forming in Kansas a week later. Or a weather pattern boiling bigger than a continent. One little flap. Afar.
You understand how picky mathematicians are. They’ve vetted this math.
I see a rubberband ball and sense the movement coursing through each band like bloodflow. Of course the defect in my metaphor is that the bands stay discreet when the magic is they’re functionally intermingled. A Jacquard weave, a monomaniac’s macrame. Threads, knots, snarls, well combed passages, complicated plaits. Plus you feel the pulse of it. Beating like a runner’s heart, beating like a ninth wave upon the sand. Gaea.
Much has been made recently about monster air currents that whisk damp air from the Amazon and cascade it down much further north. Deciduous push their way through each season, greening, changing, shedding, bare — but always busy. Next year’s buds show wanly in winter.
Think if another planet spawned living beings without what we know as the urgency of lifeforce. I don’t see how that would work. Just the dynamic energy in a fertilized egg, immediately starting to divide, divide. The same egg that develops after years of building the strong urge to replicate, tend offspring, marry them off. Start anew. Instinctual life. The silent unconscious, precise instructions of cells. Instructions that can’t be understood without the idea of the passing of information. Communication.
The reptilian brain with its blunt urges. In the cod, the human, the cat. Surging onward, the push of it. That’s Gaea. And the clever use of her long fingers or tentacles, that wind among each other, the pulse of living things interacting with the effects of the moon’s gravity like one hand pressing on another, felt, answered. Gaea. The brine intertwisted with the sweet water running from earth, each water feelng the breath, the palms of each other. And the moon, and living things. Responding.
Gazelle in a herd quickly know if only one takes fright. The sudden twitch of an acacia tree might do it. Soon the savannah is awash in motion. Ground pounding. Which stirs the underground waters. Which subtracts or adds a tree to the desertification of the Sahara lands. Which seed the transatlantic winds with just so much dust that falls in a New York apartment on a windowsill. Which is picked up on the cuff of the carefullest criminal who nonetheless gets caught, identified from a cocktail of dust and DNA. Which leaves his home empty so that when a pipe breaks the water flows down into… Gaea.
To be truly singular in this world would be to be quintessentially desolate. No bubble for a bubble boy to languish in. No disembodied stranger on the internet to argue with. No air around you to transmit the slightest wave. No air? No life.
If the Butterfly Effect is true then everything-on-earth resonates as one with the slightest ping at any point.
(Please stop here if flighty metaphysics talk makes you mad.)
A ping implies a pinger who needfully is outside the vibrating system. Which unravels my whole argument. Or can I posit enough energy in my Gaea, enough friction of racing changing facts, that entropy could be averted? A burp here, a pile-up there. Chance, singularity. Unity, convulsion, gliding again.