We are the Great Dying
By Zalysar of the 8
We emerge with a tail, on all fours, in the aftermath of The Great Dying, scurrying about, foraging for food, escaping predators, too focused on survival to admire the galaxy laid bare in the night sky. In another time, we would be related to the rats that are claimed to bring about the plague, and cats who eradicate them and keep us safe, and dogs who become our best friends and aid our sustenance.
Eons pass by, and we morph, our brains growing in size, as our arms and legs extend, inching towards the sky, finding the tallest precipice we could find, the highest branch of the tree in the great plains of this magical vastness. Our fingers now stretch, and a thumb appears to clench the fruits that hang as flowers bloom and age and butterflies escape their cocoons.
We realise the extent of our efforts and the limits of our reach, as the fields around flourish with an ineffable variety; so we descend…into the grass, to fetch once more for us a belly full of supply to succor our sleep with a sweet slumber. Our tails shrink, and spines straighten, there is a thunderous thump under our feet as thighs thickened now exert strength. There is a new place to call home, to claim for us a supply, but not the last.
We push ourselves to work in tandem, working collectively to hunt, and to feed. We use stones to tear open the guts of our prey and hide under their hides to withstand the winter’s whirling wind that bites. Our perseverance kindles our passion as the cosmos brings through serendipity a spark; aflame, the twig dances before our eyes, impressing with fire a will that’s fueled forevermore.
Armed with wood and stone, we find abodes in the wombs of hills and mountains, in eldritch crevasses wrought by cataclysmic deluges, as the green once more turns yellow, and yellow a sea of white, only this time it lasts all our lives, and as our blood freezes to a still, new blood, ferrying memories in its enormity, ushers us into our offspring, more resilient, more aware, more prepared, and more afraid…of death, but not yet the beyond.
One act of passion after another, we survive the never-ending winter, our reckoning vindicated, as the sun pierces through the blanket of endless grey, and reveals to us a land bare and barren, burdened with the tears that remained stoic in the face of despair.
We look up the sky and see birds and bees descend to the earth, healing it from the frostbites, and giving it a makeover with seeds that sprout into a plethora of plants. No great beast in sight, we plunge into the marrow of this muddy mess to make the best of what’s before us.
We speak of our observations to our children, teaching them the ways of the birds and the bees, and their seeds, and as our knowledge is sowed into them, we live on…to reap the results of our toiling.
We gather the ingredients during the day, and by fire we gather in the night to recall our days, and the days of our forebears. Our experiences expel the dread of the night, as the embers usher the smoke towards the stars, and we wonder now what lights the lamps that never dim, and what cloaks them when the moon sets, and the sun serenades hope once again into our simple cycles.
Our whimsical wanderings are brought to a sudden halt as a shrill screech and a howl turns our smiles into scowls. This foe arrests our attention, inspires our aggression, and as we inch closer to its scent, there is veneration in our hearts, a reverence borne from surrender to its might, and an inspiration to steal it for ourselves now issues in our sneers.
We veneer our jeers with jest, once our enemy is defeated and we are safe around the fire, dressed in fur, guffawing below a dead maw that dangles over our eyes, failing to blind us, as we see through the hubris of our victory a fickle flicking of our fears, flung afar in the wake of our new found dominance.
But, the fear returns next night, and there is a rumbling of fright inside that bursts into panic, so we look to the stars for answers, and knowing not the language with which to speak, we send a message through our minds, one that falls on dead years that have left shadows bright for our futile wondering.
We expect a reply, only to hear the cries of beasts as the earth caves and shakes our spirits, a vulcanian vomit of viscous viciousness, volleying rocks through its depths onto our doorsteps.
So, we flee, from plains to plateaus to hills to mountains to the cliffs by the sea; we flee, free to decide where to survive, as in this timeless tirade of the earth and the sky, and the terror of the tides, we learn through hardship a way to build, and destroy, and build again, as we live and we die in a cynical cycle.
Every lesson teaches us to submit, and negotiate with the unseen forces, so we build shrines from clay and slay our stock in sacrifice, but our efforts to sound a plea fall short of success, as time slips by faster while the days become longer.
The primordial and the primal now pressure us into a corner, our vigilance heightened, our resources treasured, so we scuffle and scatter — guarding our grains, and the lands on which our cattle graze. Our thoughts we suspect can be stolen by others, so we separate from the roots of our language, and split our tongues in two, and two more, as rivers and marshes mark our boundaries.
But these barricades wither by winter and so we burrow deeper and venture farther, crossing the barriers through bolstered determination…to survive and to know. We meet others that resemble our kind, but differ in ways that we cannot hide. We choose to sleep with some, and skewer others, our serrations sawing the branches of the genealogy, and replanting in places we believe to be ours.
Our soles sore, we remember the rocks that roll down the hills, and in their image shape stone to welcome the wheel into our world.
As our new wonders wax a sense of security, the waters escape our grasp, and famine forks for us a path again…to newer lands, but this is home, and we will not go, so some of us resign to starvation, while the rest curse the sun, and beg the sky for respite. After a long while, thunder trumpets the arrival of rain. Our yearning now floods our fields with fury, and the remnants of trunks torn now float in this fateful flow, and we grab onto them with hope, as rivers take us to new lands we refused before.
We thank the forces for our survival, and break our backs to build once again. Some of us know better than the rest, so we express our intelligence in the only language we have mastered…dominance. Now, some of us relax while the others slave away, to construct from all we have destroyed, year after year, century after century, millennia after millennia, until we have mastered the art of movement, and submitted to the sermons of our ego.
In face of rebellion, we extol the virtues of devotion, a supplication to suppress dissent, summoning the forces that we do not fully comprehend. In this ignorance we cement the existence of a force unseen, that binds together this roof above and the floor below, with shadow and with glow, with fire, water and ice. We are now conscious of our conscience, and with this our emotions grow.
Comfort has crafted a charm that is addictive, so we work harder to find ways to make us eat better, sleep better, feel better, love better, creating a tether to power in the ulterior — we are now the creator, and all creation that is not us is ours to plunder, so speaks death in our favour.
But, there is an itch that scratches the vestiges of our graves, the layers that huddle to suppress our skeletons germinate ideas watered by fear, a dread that sweats us, so we comfort ourselves with hope, and reward ourselves with feats that fight death to feed our egos, the cold light of the stars warming us to this idea of the beyond.
We tarry on, to conquer our limits with sword and salvation, as the circles of our infant societies now bloat into decadent devotion of the endless. We are not we anymore, and the I we call God.
The voices that in harmony had led to us to our achievements, now break into a cacophony, clinging onto the multi-armed caresses of chaos that incite fits of greed with raging ambition.
We bind this behemoth that we have become into a system that serves our basest desires, rendering our needs moot as the want works its way up to the top.
Now we are many, and we interpret the world around in methods we deem finest: we harness the hidden potential of the raw, and with reckless abandon we rope around the bountiful a rhythm of repetition. The sounds of nature we sample into music, and the carvings in caverns now leap onto stone and wood and paper. We dig deeper into the earth, and cleave boulders like eggs. But, we are also reticent, sewing secrets into our synapses, while seeking to make tangible that which our chemicals coo in their copulation. We alienate ourselves from our flesh to sink our arms inwards in hope of touching our souls, either in the waking or in the dreaming, while in the living or in the promise of the everlasting.
We are now found, yearning to be lost. From trees we are now upon land, and upon land we have built huts and homes, castles and tombs, temples and schools, coliseums and courtyards, baths and markets for businesses. We have now mastered our five senses, and reshaped our environment with our insatiable intent. We have now sailed across oceans and populated continents, and decorated our successes in the walls of monuments.
We have birthed legends, and labelled them in law. We have looted, lusted, and loved through languages, and in literature chronicled the likeness of our liberties that from fireside has stolen stories for the parchment. We are resolute in our meditation of the divine, and create isms to solicit our pride.
We have burned villages, towns, cities, and countries in our pursuit, pillaging and butchering with loyalty to our ancient wondering. The regression of our understanding only inhibits our progression, but we now staunchly believe ourselves to be impervious. Yet fear lingers, fear fuels, fear drives our decisions to desecrate and demolish. Fear edges us on towards the immortal that is impossible. Through the religious, through the political, through the bureaucratic, through the industrial, through the mechanical, we murder.
In this dismal dereliction, we have discovered a direction, a union of divergent paths in our unconscious. We paint, we write, we capture light, we act, we find patterns in sound. Through statues and photographs we compile a log of the human condition. And sciences we tap into through the language of the universe, a mathematical method that enables us to understand the infinite and the unseen, the within and the without, the minute and the enormous. We now interact with fossils, and rocks, with the weather, and with our own thoughts, with the flora and the fauna, with the has been and the is to be.
We know now that we are not the centre and we are not alone, that the stars that shine the brightest are but specs in a universe that is ever expanding and ever contracting. We are aware of the light and the dark, of matter and energy, of time and space.
Yet, our path is not linear. From year by year and century by century we are now living day by day, restless and gluttonous, ever desiring to be most desirous. We distort the truth and manipulate the benign, enslaving science to project our fell feelings of grandeur and conquest. We bully each other and leave our children broken. We resort to reasoning that refutes the irrefutable proof, placing faith in the unproven, and quizzing our minds with farcical fabrications that hinder us.
We poison our families, our friends, our neighbourhoods, our societies, our cities, our nations, and our world with a toxicity so pervasive, that in the wake of a pandemic we fall apart.
We have, over time, given power to individuals that dictate the outcome of millions, and in their godly delusions decide the fate of our planet. We must fear ignorance and worship knowledge, but we defy our commonsense. We must seek simplicity, yet we crave complexity. We deter the determined and deify the discordant discord of the deplorable.
We have now walked on the moon, peered into the birth of the universe, tickled the subatomic and flirted with the quantum; we have cloned life and crippled death; we have answered the questions of our ancestors who took to the trees, and tapped into the mysteries; yet, we disregard fantasies while recreating our realities around stories that were born from vanity and necessity, division and fear. We devour the resources of this planet, driving entire diversities into extinction, and hunger for a heaven we have forged from the fires of hell.
Competition has contested against collaboration and won. We trap ourselves within borders that are fiction, only to fight with each other for freedom. We do not respect that which is not us, and in our refusal to trust those who have put their lives to the purification of truth, we have given lies the authority to eviscerate all our positives.
Love, empathy, art, science, collaboration bear comfort and closure, yet we ring the gongs of our comeuppance through greed, pride, competition, war, exploitation, deceit, anger, violence and vindictiveness.
We evolved to wonder, we survived to fit within the workings of this world, but now we have discarded introspection. We are no longer humble. We consider ourselves created in heaven, but display traits that are base and primal.
We are the enemy we fear most.
We are not us anymore.
We are a nothingness that threatens everything else.
We have become a parasite.
We are the Great Dying.