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Book 332 - A Year of Magical Learning

Reflection Title: After Catastrophe, New Life!

Book – The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (Part 2 of 2)

Book Description:

Over the last half-billion years, there have been Five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.


Reflection:

Back on Reflection 123, A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, I wrote a reflection titled Life Goes On!


Exploring a brief tour of everything from the big bang to today with Bill opened my eyes to a larger insight. As we went through each period of time, space, and the known matter that occupied those eras; all I could see was the one constant that endured through it all. That constant was that life itself persevered. What we call “lifeforms” may have changed, taken different shapes, performed different functions, and found new ways of existing in this world, but the key was that life remained. No matter what this universe has thrown at the life itself, nothing has shaken it from its course to want to exist.


That thought at the time was profound for me. It helped to connect me to all that has come before me, all that is today, and all that will come in the future. We are just one tiny little, but important, part to some much larger game that is life itself. I don’t dare to try and understand why life exists, or even wants to exist, but the thought that it always has and probably always will was reassuring to me on so many levels.


If we assume that life will do what it does best and continue to endure, it makes you wonder what is the point of extinction events if it doesn’t work? I mean, the universe has tried 5 times to really screw up our ecosystem and failed miserably. Sure, it might have set us back a few million years, but life always came back more resilient and adaptable. Each time the universe tries to extinguish the candle of life, the flames only glow brighter.


Then it hit me, maybe that is the point of extinction events in the first place? Maybe these events are just one big test from the universe to help life itself to adapt, grow, and become more resilient on its mission to remain in existence.


That thought got me thinking about extinction events at micro level in our personal lives. We hate them, but we all have them happen to us somewhere on this planet every single day. Whether it be being diagnosed with terminal cancer, getting into a tragic car wreck, some infectious disease decides to invade your body, or you are born at 22 weeks old without fully a fully formed anatomy to support your ability to breath and process this world. Whatever the extinction event that decided to show up on your front door that day and make its unwanted way into your extra bedroom to set up shop for the long haul, it isn’t going away, and it is just a part of life.


That is a pretty depressing thought if you only focus on the brutal reality of any extinction event.


However, on the other side of any extinction event is something more hopeful than anything else you can ever imagine…new life and the promise of nothing but possibility if you want it!


If you are lucky enough to get a seat at the table in the new world after experiencing an extinction event, then it your duty, in my opinion, to take the lessons you’ve learned from the past and help push this world forward to ensure that life itself will still be there for billions of years to come.


Question: How are you embracing the catastrophes of your past to help build the new path forward?



 

Links:


What is The Year of Magical Learning? An Introduction


YOML Podcast Discussion - Coming Soon


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