In a few minutes, the ancient maple tree across the street from my open window will explode with light as the sun rises behind it. A few minutes later, I’ll have to adjust the blinds to keep zillions of crazy excited photons out of my eyes and, in an hour or so, the cat, who loves to sleep in the window at the back of my desk, will find it uncomfortably warm. He’ll get up, stretch, toss me a disdainful look and move lazily to the bed to continue his nap, allowing me to shut the window against the onset of July’s heat.
This is a moment of predictability on most summer mornings that I share with the Sun and the cat — it’s become as regular as coffee, the maple ablaze with dawnlight, the disrespectful feline, the heat that moments ago left the sun and traveled through spacetime to annoy my cat and warm this meager room.
Something fascinates me about this time of my day and I suspect that the wonder is a product of its predictability. The sun does this every day, rising within a few degrees of latitude and as the seasons pass, discomfort with the heat turns to welcome. If I were Mayan perhaps I could chart the travels of the sun but I doubt that even the Mayans could chart the whims of this cat.
We spend untold billions of dollars, and human eons of time trying to produce what this predictable old sun scatters with chaotic abandon through my corner of the universe daily. Trillions, or some other more impressively nonsensical number of particles of light and energy with names as strange and whimsical as my languid cat, shoot through my window daily, at no charge and with no effort on my part. In summer, I try to shield myself from the sun’s onslaught, in winter I try to encourage and collect the warmth and comfort it offers.
But I can’t prevent it, any more than I can make this cat perform close order drill or fetch my coffee.
What is it in us that refuses to accept what the sun offers for free while we destroy mountains and oceans, rivers and forests, species and generations of humanity in a futile attempt to reproduce its products for sale?
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Image via The Library of Congress
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