May 17, 2022
Remember the timeline
made of soft colored felt?
Foot after foot of black:
the Big Bang, eventually stars.
A band of yellow (planets form.)
Green for teeming plants.
Orange for the dinosaurs'
165,000,000 year reign.
At the end a tiny red line:
Toltecs, Industrial Revolution,
today's headlines. In that line
humans lift each other up
and tear each other down.
The dance has always been
two steps forward, one step back.
The arc of the universe doesn't
bend toward anything
unless we push and pull,
coax and cajole. Don't stop.
At the Judson Montessori school in San Antonio, where I went for preschool and first grade, there was a timeline of the universe made out of felt. I remember it like I remember lunchtimes listening to Ravel's "Bolero." The felt strip was maybe 4" wide, and many feet long, longer than I could count.
Mostly what I remember about the timeline now is the long stretch of black felt that signified the early history of the universe, and the tiny red line all the way at the right end that signified human history. (Kind of like this Kurtzgesagt video, but low-tech and tangible. It was the late 1970s, after all.)
That timeline has been coming back to me recently. How vast is the history of the universe. How tiny our human fraction of time. How much beauty, and how much horror, we've packed into the thin sliver of time when human beings have been alive on this earth. How much work we still have to do.