This is your mother speaking. Why don’t you call? You never talk to me anymore but I still follow your doings as you scramble around on my surface. One thing I keep hearing you mutter is that you’re worried about me. Some of you say you’re working to save me. I hate to burst your bubble but the fact is there’s nothing you can do to me that I care about.
I’ll be here when you are long gone. You can accelerate the demise of your species and the other species presently scurrying around alongside you, but everything will merely slide into another evolutionary cycle, whatever you do. You could explode every weapon you have, warm my surface temperature by one hundred percent and fell every tree and I’d just sit back and watch for a few million years as things settled down, new life evolved and a myriad of new species emerged. Been there, done that– many times. I’ve seen worse, believe me.
You have always thought it’s all about you. I can’t blame you for your lack of perspective. Your lives are brief. But I really must draw the line when you imply that you have any long term power over me. So let’s be frank, your real problem is that you can’t admit your individual let alone species’ mortality. Since what you make in the material world will be lost you have no permanent power here. Sorry.
The only power you have is to go deeper into your experience of beauty– or not. So let me offer this word of advice: all you have are the moments you most deeply appreciate what you love. Your only achievement as a species is consciousness. And this was an evolutionary gift you can’t take credit for. Your only choice is to experience this gift deeply or to deny it.
Put it this way: music moves in the air through sound waves but only becomes music inside you. As he wrote his Ninth Symphony, Beethoven was deaf but “heard” his music with the core of his being. Schiller’s poetry and Beethoven’s music that he used to make that poetry live, was as real as the carbon and water molecules Beethoven’s body was made of. It was so real that Beethoven could transmit his emotions to you, as yet unborn, by scratching out notes on a cold lifeless page as he set these words to music:
This kiss for the whole world!
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods
Spark of the gods!
There’s only one difference between you and everything else crawling on my surface, the joy of being moved by beauty and of knowing you are being moved. Every species loves and protects her own. Only you ask why you find some things beautiful. Like other animals you feel love, but only you ask why.
Your gift of longing for answers is what makes you more than just one more doomed species, though doomed you most certainly are. Your unrequited longing for answers was first expressed when one of you exclaimed “That’s beautiful!” Your longing for answers became your core spiritual characteristic when another one of you asked “But what is beauty?”
And here’s the irony: even though you can’t define what the words beauty and love mean, if you’d only judge everything you do to me and to each other by first asking if what you’re doing is beautiful, you’d have more to love and live longer to love it.
Your human primate physical survival depends not on the material world but on you recognizing that aesthetics – in other words your aspiration for beauty — is all that stands between you and physical oblivion. Go with the flow of your current fad for irony and cynicism and watch your lives end. The greatest threat to your survival is not pollution but cynicism.
What is more permanent, a statue of Beethoven or the joyful feeling in one human primate’s innermost being as the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony explodes into her brain? The statue will return to the formless matter that predates us all. The emotion expressed by the inner cry “This is so beautiful!” transcends the material universe and will outlast it and is the only manifestation of the energy that predated matter before the Big Bang.
“How can I know that’s true?” you ask. You can’t. But your longing for an answer is the answer. Your unrequited desire to know what the words beauty and love mean is your ode to joy. It is the beautiful spark of the gods.