#Poem – Wanderlust / 09.08.17

You travel light
And endeavour
Forever to spend
This short life
Skirting the surface
Of a spinning ball.

Chasing the sunrise
Broadening your horizons
Until you can’t see the edges of your horizons.

Not running from
But running towards
The Great Unknown.

Awash in jet fuel
And optimism
You put another thousand miles
Behind you.

But the road is long
The world is wide
And again
You reaffirm
That The Search
Is not done yet.

What is it?
Where is it?
Have you ever seen it?
In transcendent moments?
In stop offs, brief pauses for breath,
Facebook check ins
In hotel lobbies, through telephoto lenses,
Or out on the Savannah?

Did you find it in Akrotiri
In a sunrise?
Or Akureyri?
And phosphorescent skies?
Was it there,
Amongst gutters, clamour
And all those people in Mumbai?

You may see everything
You ever wanted to see
All the major focal points
Of the Spinning Ball
And you may
Create more memories
Than you could ever recall.

Your skin may darken
And your mind may widen
And you may make friends
In unfamiliar places
Or leave this world
Full of familiar places

But a thousand years
Could pass you by
And you would never find
What you were looking for

And that would be alright in the end

Everything will be alright in the end

Photo by Anne Worner

#Poem / #ThoughtExperiment – The Family / 22.05.17

When we talk of our ‘family’, where do we draw the line?

Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, 1st cousins…3rd cousins, 11th cousins twice removed
Like a great many things, it’s all relative

Go back far enough and we all share the same grandmother
(‘Mitochondrial Eve’)
Or take this argument back further
To some sort of floppy, spineless, water based creature
From which we are all descended

Back further still to single celled bacteria
Hanging out, multiplying and swallowing each other
(…great grandparents taken to orders of magnitude and ridiculous extremes)

Even further still to the pool of amino acids
Waiting for life to happen
And bubbling in the Primordial Soup

In one way ‘family’ is defined by amount of genetic divergence between two organisms
The less divergence, the more ‘related’ you could call us
If we take the amount of genetic similarity as a measurement…

Whoever you are, you share around 99.5%  of your DNA with me

So, when I call you my brother or my sister perhaps it means something
If it can be worked out at the point our grandparents diverged
Then it really is  a matter of degree

haiku about meaning of life - black and white crowd

Put another way, all of our grandparents were the same ‘person’, up until a very recent point in the biological timeline
And so,
Maybe we can take a more expansive view and realise
That, to a great extent, all of Earth’s life is related

I mean, Jesus, you already share 60% of your genes with a chicken
At one point you and that chicken’s extremely-great-grandparent
Where one and the same

In this way perhaps we could think of ourselves as a big family;

Of carbon and trace elements
Currently animate complex matter
Source material born in the heart of a star
Subatomic material born in the Big Bang
(….again, it depends how far back you look)
Back to that old stardust trope again

black and white galaxy

Despite being an only child of an only child of an only child of an only child
I like to think of everybody and everything as my brothers and sisters
The Orion Spiral Arm Crew
Meaninglessly large numbers
Trillions or quadrillions of us;

You, me and everyone and everything

All living and dying and recycling our matter
Over and over again
All fighting the war against entropy, frailty, futility and Oblivion
Over and over again
Some searching for meaning
Most just trying to survive and reproduce
So that their children can do just the same,

Forever and ever
Until there is no space for ghosts
Until there is just space
Empty space
And what will the point of it all have been?

Photo by vishwaant