The Things We Make of Rubble
It is 4.5 Billion years ago, the hadean era, and the earth is hell. The ground spits fire and rock and magma and the skies pour down rain and brimstone and lightning in the most ancient of wars, fought on the geological level. The planet will never experience more violence. But hurricanes that last for long enough can fill a world with oceans, lightning striking the same place not just twice but thousands of times in the span of a single heartbeat takes us into the outer reaches of probability, and there, for the first time in the ten billion year history of the universe, cataclysmic forces fuse molecules together into amino acids. Abiogenesis. It’s not much to look at yet. We have 500 million years to wait before the first cells form, 1 billion before anything multicellular is born, and 2.2 billion before the animal kingdom is founded, but this is the start of something. This is the start of something that runs and breathes and thinks and howls at the moon. This is the start of something that lives, wrought not in spite of the destructive forces that molded our infant earth, but because of them.
It is 65 million years ago, and the earth is a target. Hurtling toward us at the speed of destiny is a bullet fired by a cosmic hitman taking aim at all life on our planet, and he is good. The impending impact will wipe out three of every four plants on the globe along with the biggest and the baddest of the dinosaurs. But when you’re an assassin of galactic proportions sometimes little things escape you, and so ours will leave survivors. They are bats and mice and marsupials, and before the decimation of the dinosaurs they were too small to do anything more than hide in the shadows, but in a world where the sun is shrouded by dust and acid rains from the sky fur coats and squeezing into shelter matter more than teeth and claws, so now they stand tall. They will endure, these furry little creatures, and they too are the start of something, something that contains the blue whales and the African Elephants and eventually, something that has room for us, too, room made for us by that same galactic assassin who tried to annihilate our ancestors.
It is three months ago, and while getting dinner with my father I notice that he’s received a text from Jodie, which would be fine, except that I have no sisters and my mother’s name is Julia. Jodie is the name of my father’s yoga instructor, and in that moment I am forced to realize for the first time that the man I wanted to become my whole life is just my projection of the one who really raised me. This is my personal hadean era, my private meteor, my own customized destruction. For the next month I will lie awake in bed long after my mother has cried herself to sleep and wonder if now I have to become my father. After all, studies show that children of divorced parents belong to a club that is twice as likely to end their own marriages, and now I am a double-generation legacy. I will wonder if this is genetic, if infidelity is inherited, and then I will wonder if all I’ve inherited is weakness, just as unable to actually ask my father if he’s cheated as he was to repair his marriage. I will wonder and I will worry and I will question, and this will slowly unmake the me I wanted to be. But hadean era is directly responsible for all life on this planet, the meteor that destroyed the dinosaurs was the indirect founder of the human race, and after enough hours spent thinking I will realize something. Ends can be beginnings, destruction can be birth, and this moment, this personal Armageddon, is also the start of something. It is the start of something unknown and mysterious and terrifyingly undetermined, and that will be the beauty of it, because it will not be something set in stone. It will be something that I choose and build for myself in every moment, with every decision, for the rest of my life. It will be something good. I will make sure of it.
Alex was born in London and raised in Miami, which makes his current home country, the United States, the third one he’s lived in so far. He is a sophomore at Yale University double-majoring in English and Physics.