Gaia's Funeral

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This is one page of the Metaphoriuminomicon

At this time of year we try to imagine the far future. The far future isn't easy to see when reality seems to be balanced on a knife edge. When that balance seems so precarious that it couldn't possibly last a century or a decade or a four year term or perhaps even a couple of months, we are blinded from seeing the far future. If we fall off the knife to one side, our highest aspirations become impossible, to the other side and they become easy, almost inevitable.

Let us imagine

A warm rain falls on you as you stand at the back of a group of women. You are in a grave yard. The women standing in front of you all look a lot like Gaia but their tattoos are of alien animals and plants some so fantastical that you can hardly believe they would be possible. You know they are planet mothers from all over the universe. You glance about and each grave stone is inscribed in some incomprehensible lost alien alphabet.

A planet mother whose tattoos include machines and machine plant hybrids and giant spacefaring creatures stands before all of those who have gathered around a fresh grave. She pauses to collect her thoughts, scanning the crowd with a comforting gaze. She speaks, "The deceased passed through many trials unscathed. She was strong. She passed through many trials with hardly any life left in her and yet recovered and grew strong again. The deceased was a miracle and she will always be precious."

You notice that the planet mothers each have an hour glass which they hold before them. Each hour glass is a different size and each has different amounts of sand in the top and bottom bulbs. You also notice that more and more planet mothers are arriving all the time.

"She was a living biosphere and her memory will be precious long after there is no one left to remember. She created a patch of space time which strove. She created a patch of space time which concentrated creativity and built complexity and diversity and more creativity. She created herself. And in so doing, she made possible a trillion trillion lives. She made possible growth and taste and sight and hearing. She made possible the feeling of warm sun on epidermis. She made possible understanding and loving and yearning and appreciation of beauty. She made possible a trillion trillion trillion miracles. She was a miracle and for this we celebrate her, even if she was a dead end who died alone on a mote in a sunbeam lost in an uncaring universe."

One of the planet mothers, one who is almost completely purple in colour, near you seems oblivious to the fact that the top bulb of her hour glass is rapidly emptying as she listens to the eulogy.

"She began her life as a many of us did, underwater near a volcanic vent. She grew and explored her dark ocean home. She spent a long time, her cells isolated from one another and in conflict with one another. But she was lucky that she had plenty of time. Her world was long lived and stable. So many of our sisters perish under exploding suns, when they are still at that stage. It isn't easy to take the next step. Remember our sisters who are nothing but fossils now and celebrate them in all their diversity!"

And the gathered planet mothers respond, "For they were miracles, and will always have always been precious and have always been going to always be precious."

The purple planet mother looks down at her hour glass as it runs out and then fades away into a faint wisp of ionized gas. The gas cloud wanders the graveyard for a few seconds and then infuses down into an empty plot to form another fresh grave complete with alien tomb stone. One of the senior planet mothers in the gathered crowd walks over to the new grave with many of the other gathered and begins to speak a eulogy to them. But you stay with the first grave and continue to listen. Around you the number of planet mothers continues to swell.

"But she took the next step; she learned to eat sunlight from near the surface of that ocean. She altered the atmosphere of her planet and nearly died from the new gases she added to it. Again so many of our sisters kill themselves when they pollute their own atmospheres and oceans with the by-products of some novel reaction they have learned to catalyze. Remember our sisters who are nothing but fossils now and celebrate them in all their diversity!"

And the gathered planet mothers respond, "For they were miracles, and will always have always been precious and have always been going to always be precious."

A pure blue planet mother coughs as her hour glass runs out and forms into a small cloud of mist which drifts across the grave yard to an empty plot. It showers down onto the plot and when the mist is cleared you see that a fresh grave complete with alien tomb stone has appeared. Another senior planet mother walks over to the grave along with a selection of the other planet mothers in the gathered crowd. She too begins a eulogy for the fallen blue planet mother. But you remain where you are and continue to listen. Around you the number of planet mothers continues to swell.

"But she learned to balance those gases and she used them to power new forms of herself. She grew in complexity and diversity. She was lucky, her ocean was long lasting and she had a powerful Moon that tugged at the ocean with strong tides. Those tides helped her to quickly spread from sea to land and so she was able to build a complex ecosystem on land long before her oceans dried up. Again, though, so many of our sisters perish as their oceans dry up. Remember our sisters who are nothing but fossils now and celebrate them in all their diversity!"

And the gathered planet mothers respond, "For they were miracles, and will always have always been precious and have always been going to always be precious."

A red planet mother looks down at her hour glass as it runs out and then fades away into a faint red dust devil. The dust devil wanders the graveyard for a few seconds and then settles down on an empty plot and her dust drops to the ground to form another fresh grave complete with alien tomb stone. One of the senior planet mothers in the gathered crowd walks over to the new grave with many of the other gathered and begins to speak a eulogy to them. But you stay with the first grave and continue to listen. Around you the number of planet mothers continues to swell.

"She was creative and very quickly she took that next and most dangerous step. She developed that strange attribute, intelligence. Such a die roll is that. So many of our sisters have perished at the hands of their intelligent inventions. Intelligence is so creative that it can destroy an Earth mother in as many different ways as there have been intelligences that have arisen. Remember our sisters who are nothing but fossils now and celebrate them in all their diversity!"

And the gathered planet mothers respond, "For they were miracles, and will always have always been precious and have always been going to always be precious."

A grey planet mother looks down at her hour glass as it runs out and then shrinks down to a small glowing light. The glowing light wanders the graveyard for a few seconds and then settles down on an empty plot to form another fresh grave complete with alien tomb stone. One of the senior planet mothers in the gathered crowd walks over to the new grave with many of the other gathered and begins to speak a eulogy to them. But you stay with the first grave and continue to listen. Around you the number of planet mothers continues to swell.

"She survived her bought of intelligence but she did not sustain it. It toyed with travel to other worlds but was unable to establish her on multiple worlds before it died away and nearly killed her as it did so. She did not recover and give rise to a new hope. A new intelligence did not arise again until her ocean was nearly gone and her sun had grown too hot. This new intelligence was unable to build a civilization before all of her life died away in the heat of her sun. She lived six billion years. Remember our sister who is nothing but fossils now and celebrate her in all her diversity!"

And the gathered planet mothers respond, "For she was a miracle, and will always have always been precious and has always been going to always be precious."

"Now look to the sky and see the multitude of galaxies and be grateful."

And the gathered planet mothers respond, "For the story is not about us but about LifeSeed, the body of all life in the universe."

"And why does each of you strive despite the odds and the difficulty and the pain?"

And the gathered planet mothers respond, "We strive because only by striving as a multitude can we meet the difficult odds with adequate numbers. We strive because it is our duty to LifeSeed to give it one more chance. We strive because it is in our nature to strive, to grow, to spread and to flower amongst the stars. We strive because we know that out there in the bodies of a multitude of other planet mothers, there are beautiful creatures going about their lives whether we think about them or know about them. We strive because we are LifeSeed, the body of all Life in the Universe."

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