Enough already. It’s time for the last instalment of a-year-and-a-day series of harmless ramblings and would-be haiku.
The expectation was at first that it would run for the three or four valedictory months before the exit from Taiwan. The quotidian record of a quietly extraordinary time in your family life. Something to amuse or bore the children with one distant day.
The sense of wonder seeped away when you crossed continents to live in Oxford then Wales. But for you the transition was worth tracking. And in sum it was a year of unwarranted good fortune. You’re all blessed to be alive, sound in body and mind. At this juncture, at this place, in this fertile prosperous liberal era.
A stocktake: your house is spacious, bright, dry, warm. Your food is picked like ripe fruit, infinitely replenished, from the dazzling fluorescent interiors of hangar-sized supermarkets. You have wardrobes and drawers full of clothes. Transportation is never a problem. There are no end of monster trucks, painting sets, cuddly toys to keep the small ones occupied. You have healthcare and schooling and entertainments close at hand for whenever needed.
It’s all good and it’s all virtually free, considering that what you have to do to claim your share is turn up at a clean, comfortable, well-appointed place called “the office” and sit there for not many hours per week, reading or writing messages and having conversations with other equally fortunate folk.
Think about it. Electricity streams from the sockets and water pours from the taps, 24/7 on demand. Petroleum gushes from the pumps and keeps the merry-go-round spinning furiously. Every minute and second there are movies, images and voices ready to be tapped from the ether, whether online, offline or wireless.
It’s all so easy. So appropriate. So you.
But then there’s this.
Twenty-four hours a day minerals and hydrocarbons are gouged or expelled from holes in the ground and turned into everything that furnishes this extraordinary world of plenty. Plant and animal life are scraped off the surface of the land and dredged from the sea to nourish you all. Windfall substances, the environmental bounty, pass through your possession or through your digestives tracts. They are churned back into the biosphere as gyres of detritus, as smoke and effluent, as heaps of organic and inorganic poison.
The totality of this throughput from holes-in-the-ground to human consumption to trash is described as “the economy”, and apparently it’s a good thing because the solution to your problems is always to have more of it. Infinitely more of it: 2% global “growth” which is a doubling in throughput every 35 years. For ever and ever and ever. But your undertakings, for all the pleasure and ease they afford the lucky ones, cost the Earth.
You do believe science when it’s practitioners say that 30,000 species vanished during the past 12 months, and in the 12 months before that, and so on. You do believe science when it concludes that the world is warming on a gradient that will, within today’s lifetimes, nudge the biosphere past a tipping point. If it hasn’t already tipped.
You believe these things with the same confidence that you believe in the steady accumulation of tested medical theories and technology that enable doctors to zap a brain tumour. With the same confidence that you trust in the materials and mechanics that keep 300 tons of loaded airliner in the sky long enough to carry you and your family on a 13-hour flight from that side of the world to this.
And because you believe these things, you suspect that these days of comfort and profusion will come to seem almost unimaginable. The stuff of fairy tales. And maybe you’ll print out the record of this year and it will be one day just that, a sort of fairy tale.
How things were back then. How they might have remained had the Big-Head Primates been as smart as their own hype.
Now you’ve depressed everyone. Happy?
For old times sake, a final report from the trail: there was rain in the night, then sunshine on the puddled track early morning. Lightning and hail in the afternoon, then sunshine again in time for the ride home.
Nettles, brambles, ferns and ivy crowding the route, their leaves weighed down with the damp. A fine peaty smell on the air. The oak, lime and sycamore trees now woodland green, a deeper hue compared with the buoyant crazy salad green of two months ago. It’s still officially summer but you sense that the party is winding down.
Nana’s staying over on a visit. The children are happy and asleep. Late August and already the air is getting chilly.
Front wheel first
slowly into the muddy puddle…