We all have a responsibility to look after our home, Mother Earth or Gaia, as she is known by some. How many of us are truly doing what we can to ensure future generations have somewhere to call home? This story came about in a moment of guilt when I realised I could be doing much more. But I, like the many people who do claim to care, cannot work alone. It has to be a collective effort by all of humankind or one day, in the not too distant future, Gaia may turn against us …
Gaia sighed. Not a sigh as lovers sigh looking into each other’s eye. This was a sigh of resignation. In all her memories, there had never been a time she felt as unheeded as now. There had been a time, a time of oneness when all her multitudinous inhabitants had co-existed, each with the other. When species knew their place in the infinite chain of life and cycled through their existence, not always at peace but with respect for one another: the lion hunted the swift gazelle which in turn fed on the fruits of the trees; parasitic birds and insects grazed upon them and they, in turn, were the prey of others. “Yes”, Gaia thought, “there was a time.”She sighed again. She remembered when humans first came to prominence in the twilight of her existence. To them, she was the Great Mother, the Creator of life, the Sustainer of life. Was it not she who bore all her inhabitants and was it not to her that they all returned to continue the cycle?
Gaia felt old now, old and forgotten. That respect, that devotion was all gone now. She felt the hurt as the careful balance she had sought to maintain was eroded, not by wind and elements, but by the ravages of humans. “They have overstepped their bounds. They must be taught a lesson.”She pondered on that thought for a moment and, for a moment, felt a surge of effervescent warmth flow through her form. But grim reality broke through her musings and she shuddered at the horror of the reality.
Her memory was dim and misty. She could remember her birth, but only just. How she had taken form from the cosmic flotsam and jetsam all those countless aeons ago. She remembered the youthful exuberance she exhibited then and she smiled to herself in embarrassed recollection. No life form could have survived upon her then for she was wild and wilful, hot and inhospitable, prone to savage outpourings. But she grew, she gained the experience of time passing, and slowly, slowly, her voluble exterior became calm and gradually her form was blanketed in a kindly cloak of life-sustaining gases. The soup of her oceans spawned life which multiplied into myriad varieties of flora and fauna and she thought of how many she had seen come and go.
The present again broke through her meditation of what had gone before. Now she was approaching the night-time of her existence and, like the old elephant, one of her favourite inhabitants, she knew her time was near. She had tried so hard to adapt, to compromise but, like a cancer, the human scourge had spread beyond all control. Oh yes, there had been a few voices raised in concern and some, she knew, spoke with all the sincerity she knew the species was capable of. But, those voices went unheeded, listened to by a few but ignored by the many.
Gaia was tired. She hurt. Sol bore down on her savagely, relentlessly and she felt her protective shroud growing weaker and weaker as every moment passed. It was now, her end had come …..
He awoke with a start. As he became fully conscious from his deep sleep, the recollection of the dream came to him, slowly at first and then building in intensity and vividness. He was shrouded in sweat and his heart was pounding rhythmically in his ears. Gently he swung his legs over the side of the bed, raising his body at the same time, and lowered his feet to the ground. He sat for a moment and ran his fingers through his hair and then stood up, stretched, and walked toward the window which was still shuttered against the savage winds that blew across the tractless wastes of the desert outside. He flung the shutters open and blinked painfully as the vicious light momentarily blinded him. Still blinded, he groped around on the table for his visor, placed it over his eyes and reluctantly opened them.The sand-storm had subsided now and there were only intermittent flashes of lightning sparking near the horizon. There was no sign of life.
He thought about the dream. It was almost a revelation to him of cosmic importance. There were the legends of a Mother planet called Gaia or to some, Earth, but to all his people, they were just that, legends and nothing more. But he knew that there was more than a grain of truth in the stories he had first heard as a child and on this, his first night on the barren, uncharted planet, the dream had been enough to convince him that he was home.