the right to be present, to attend, to be astonished
Halfway through the first episode of the BBC's The Earth from Space you can see how a vast cloud of red sand from a dead lake in the Sahara desert is slowly and gently carried by the winds all the long way across the Atlantic to the Amazon rainforest where the fine sand is rained onto the thick canopy delivering its nourishing minerals.
You ask yourself, surely this is not coincidental? You admit that it seems nothing short of a miracle and immediately, you can think of a string of such miracles (see the video below for example) which so obviously reflect how Planet Earth is looking after Planet Earth - without human input, our useless, destructive, cruel human input. Also, miracle, what a stupid word, how limiting, how human to describe what appears to be self evident, practical, sharing, caring. There, I said it, caring!
Early in 1982, I was with friends whose baby refused to be born on time and what should have been a short visit turned into two, almost three weeks of hanging around, playing cards, and going on shorter and shorter walks. I had a lot of time on my hands and - as you do - started a very amateurish translation of James Lovelock's book Gaia: A new look at life on earth. On a typewriter, while the mother-to-be was napping.
The baby arrived when I was halfway through, it's a slim book. I finished the translation much later, pregnant myself, full of mother hunger, and sent it off to my father, a messy folder of typed pages.
I suppose I wanted to impress him or maybe shock him. He was disappointed with me
at the time as usual. I had dropped out of my university career. No longer the shining achiever at one of the oldest and most glorious universities, I was living in a small country that was falling off the edge of his world, baking bread.
He wasn't impressed at all. He told me, would not waste his time reading it.
Many years later, though, at one of these family events where we all stand around, glasses of something in our hands, fake smiles and faked interest, I heard him, he was standing a few steps in front of me, talking to his cousin (who had invented something of photovoltaic importance and thus had earned some respect from my father): yes, Lovelock, indeed, of course I read his first book many years ago.
Now, another decade later, he calls me and we remember, as if it was yesterday, how he received this folder from me and how impressed he was reading it, still is, and yes, yes, Lovelock, amazing, just recently, someone mentioned him on tv.