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A Change of Form and Place

"The same regions do not remain always sea or always land, but all change their condition in the course of time."

Aristotle, Meteorologica

      Compared to the scope of nature's history, our sense of time is nothing but miniscule. Our eye witness account of erosion is nothing more than mere handfuls of dust, considering the seemingly unfathomable transformations which our earth has undergone in its life. Even our most dearly held and most deeply imbedded collective memories are shadowed by the immense memory etched into the earth itself - its history of conflict and resolution, stillness and activity - revealed through its monumental scars, masses, and voids.
      We yearn to understand the immensity of this natural timeline and to read this evidence of its presence in the world around us. Our fascination with the ruins of human past and the records of human presence are prime examples. As we contemplate abandoned structures, hieroglyphics, and oral traditions, we not only view the content at hand, but also the weight of time. It is this awareness of distance and history that most perplexes us.
     This is the human perspective - a view which, at most, illuminates less than .02% of earth's history. How can we begin to fathom the immensity of time which lies beyond it - beyond our conventional wisdom? The answer to the measurement of large change lies in large numbers. Only a small percentage of people understand the language of scientific time - the equations, numbers, and values which are more or less incomprehensible for the mathematically faint of heart.

     Yet, what of a simpler language? To what extent can we comprehend this larger scale of time through direct contact and interaction with its byproducts - the unassuming, every-day events, objects, formations, and expressions of the world around us? The ground beneath our feet, the water lapping at the shore, each tree and plant. Furthermore, can we see how one merges to the other? Can we experience the earth's heat and energy in the cooled lava of the sea floor? When that sea floor is subducted and transformed to mountains, can we still see its origin? In the detritus of the mountain in the form of erosion? In the bed of clay? Lastly, can we still catch a brief glimpse of this origin when holding a shaped and fired bowl?

Mitch IburgComment