Gaia Eats Her Parts

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Quote of the Day

Sometimes Gaia is Medea

--SolSeed saying

Imagine for a second being transported to the surface of Venus.
A second is all you need to imagine because after a second you would be dead.
I am uncertain which would make your death there more painful;
the firy heat,
the crushing pressure,
or the poison air.
You would be safe from the sulfuric acid rain because the surface is so hot that it evaporates before it can reach the dessicated ground.
Now return from your imagination to reality here on Terra.
Still alive?
That is Gaia taking care of you.
Be grateful.

--Eric Saumur, Waking that Cosmic Religious Feeling, Episode 4

Contemplation for the Day

Let us imagine

You are standing in a city park, the noise of traffic is closeby but still a background sound. A few trees surround a fountain. Bicycles rush by on a pathway along the edge of the park. Buildings loom overhead in every direction. A couple sits on the grass nearby having an argument about how their lives should play out. One end of the park is wilder than the other. Shrubs and saplings crowd around the base of the trees. Workmen arive in a van marked with the colours of a construction company. They begin placing a line of temporary wooden barriers across that end of the park. You feel concern for those trees. What is about to happen to them?

You look closely at them and see Gaia standing with her back to you among the foliage. Worried for her safety and, also, needing solace regarding what you believe is about to happen, you run across the park to her side. As you approach you see truck stop at the edge of the park pulling a huge double dropdeck trailer carrying a massive excavator marked with the same construction company's name.

'Gaia, these trees are about to be killed,' you exclaim, 'we have to do something.'

But when Gaia turns to you, you are horrified. Her arms and legs, though The Blue and Green of Life Thriving, are hydraulic; steel bars and cylinders and oily hoses. Her hands are hydraulic excavator shovels and her mouth is heavy duty hydraulic grapple. In the pits where her eyes should be are seats occupied by tiny construction workers operating levers and throttles.

'Gaia, I don't understand.' you say frightened and nearly speechless.

'Little one,' Gaia says, the grapple moving in a eerie mimic of lips forming words, 'I cannot save these trees. You forget that I am the body of all Life. Even machine Life, including the excavator which is about to kill these trees.'

'But that excavator isn't alive and these trees are.' you cry exasperated.

'Why do you claim that the excavator isn't alive. It moves does it not, just as an animal moves?' she calmly explains. In the background you can hear the excavator screeching and thumping as it drives itself off the trailer.

'Yes but it can't reproduce.' you try to reason with Gaia.

'There are many nearly identical copies of it all over the world. Surely it must have reproduced for that to be the case.' Gaia motions to it. It is extending its stabilizers facing the trees menacingly.

'No it was built by humans.' you say hurriedly, somehow you have to convince her.

'Like a virus, built by the effort of other creatures, and yet alive.' Gaia watches the excavator tear the first tree down with love in her eyes. 'I haven't had such power for 66 million years.'

As she says this the scene around you blurs and as it reforms it is completely different and yet the same. You are standing in a small stand of trees. Around this stand in every direction is the wreckage of a once rich forest. A heard of giant sauropod dinosaurs are walking away from your stand toward another forest in the distance. But one beast is still here. It is stripping the leaves off the crown of one of the remaining trees. Gaia too has changed. Her hair is gone replaced by feathers. Her skin is scaly and she has a very long neck and tail. She smiles at you and you take an instinctive step back; her mouth is filled with razor sharp teeth.

'Gaia, you are frightening me!' you exclaim without thinking. You look at the sauropods massive feet churning the soil as it positions itself.

'I am a frightening goddess, little one.' Gaia explains calmly, 'not only do I provide for my parts by creating water, air, soil and forests and by regulating Terra's temperature and her ocean's salinity, I also eat my parts to feed my other parts. Some of my parts even kill other parts which are inconvenient to them.' As you watch a small mammal emerges from its burrow near the sauropods feet squealing; the sauropod's feet have churned the soil and crushed the burrow. The little rat-like creature protests as loudly as it can but the sauropod cannot even hear it over the crunching of leaves and twigs in its mouth.

'What comfort is there in such a goddess?' You ask, despairing.

'What comfort can a cabbage have when it is faced with harvest?' Gaia asks back and the scene blurs again. It goes dark, but you can feel sunlight on your leaves. You realize that you are a plant. You can sense the water and nutrients at your root tips and you sip them joyfully. You feel the sweetness forming in your leaves as the sun powers your photosynthetic efforts. You can 'hear' the pheromonic wisperings of the other cabbages around you. But they are not happy wisperings. They are warnings.

Gaia is the next cabbage over and she says in pheromones more complex and subtle than any real cabbage knows how to produce, 'Have you ever eaten cabbage little one?'

You find you are able to reply in equally complex pheromonic language, 'Yes but cabbage's don't feel, do they?'

Gaia emits a burst of pheromonic laughter, 'How would you know if they did, little one? They are more alien to you than octopii.'

One of the other cabbages beside you squeals (in pheromones) as it is ripped from the ground, 'protect yourselves; herbivore coming.' it cries. But you know there is no protection to be had and you know that you are next.

'But Gaia, I need comfort.' you call to her in a puff of scented air.

'Take heart I care for my parts also.' Gaia says and the scene blurs again. Now you are sitting in a huge café. You glance around and there are thousands, perhaps millions of tables. At each one a different creature sits; so many species. Waitresses flit back and forth serving the customers. Each waitress is Gaia. One Gaia-waitress stops at your table and plunks down a glass of water and pressure cylender attached to a breathing mask. You take a breath from the cylinder and the dry-clear-headedness of pure oxygen infiltrates you. The dryness makes you thirsty so you take a sip from the glass of water.

But you instinctively spit it out; it is ocean brine. 'Oh sorry, did I give you the wrong order?' your Gaia-waitress cries, 'here let me fix that.' She puts another glass of water on your table. A comotion has arrisen a few tables over. A Gaia-hostess has seated a shrew next to a mole and the mole is protesting. While your Gaia-waitress is watching this comotion, she accidentally picks up your oxygen cylender instead of the glass of ocean brine and moves it to the next table. A bacterium sitting at that table (I did start this little story with the words, 'imagine with me'; work your imagination hard). So, yes, a bacterium sitting at that table takes a breath from the cylinder and withers and dies.'

'Oh crap! Was that customer anerobic? How am I supposed to keep track?' Gaia cries in frustration.

'Gaia, I am human. I need more comfort than oxygen and water can provide.' You yell over the din of the café.

'Oh I provide that too.' Gaia says calmly and the scene blurs again.

You are walking down sunny but busy street. You see your best friend emerge from the crowd ahead of you. He walks toward you smiling, arms out offering a hug. As you accept the hug, tears running down your cheeks from all the terrible things you have imagined, you notice that his skin is marked with the blue-green of Life thriving. You hear Gaia wisper in your ear, 'I am your friends and family also, little one.'

Please join me for seven minutes of quiet meditation.

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