Shiny New Inertia

Rising water, fouled air, vanishing wildlife _ yet it all looks the same.

New Year!  Time to change our tired old ways!  We take stability for granted, and swear resolutions of hopeful progress.  Better diet, more exercise, less wasted time, whatever. 

Meanwhile, we take daily continua of marvels for granted.  We see stability where universal chaos hangs in the balance moment by moment.  Before we rush off to do things differently, we should pause a moment to celebrate inertia.

Our body is a seething cauldron of tensions, all but unnoticed until something goes wrong.  Trillions of cells are, each second and nanosecond, engaged in complex engineering feats of building and destroying molecules, harvesting or storing energy, frantically replicated.  Almost those cells will have been replaced by the next time we celebrate this arbitrary celestial checkoff.  Our body less a delicately balanced machine than an infinitely complex contraction in which one tendency (barely) balances off another, always threatening to veer out of control.

Our mind _ we cannot describe our entire mind.  Fleeting memories, focus that floats and overlays, that forgets and modifies.  Senses that lie even as they describe how to survive or which bring terror and beauty.  Consciousness is a mystery completely to itself, isolated from logic, infinitely mysterious and wonderful.  Always present, almost always unnoticed.

Salt marshes may soon drown but remain for now as beautiful as ever.

After all time, most of the universe has settled into a predictable pattern which continues along heedless of all the time that remains.  Each day the sun rises, the moon pulls the tides, the solstice stars journey through the heavens, the planets wander.  Even that ponderous inertia is illusion.

Earth calmly orbits the sun _ no, not really _ this planet tries to go in a straight line but is forcefully dragged into a curves generated by mysterious gravity.  Photons and neutrinos flick everywhere, leptons seethe in and out of existence unseen.  Atoms are assemblages of churning forces constantly contending with one another _ all solid matter is mostly raging space.

The stars and sun spew out massive amounts of energy, although radioactive elements spark a bit.  It all seems so normal.  Because we have evolved to accept what is, almost everything at human scale appears to us as stable, right, and natural.

That is the inertia we take for granted.  The wonderful platform of all we are.

Even threatening skies are beautiful, a blessing and curse on our perceptions of change.

Stability is useful.  Mostly, we want everything to be as it is, just a little better.  Resolutions are usually pretty minor things, in the grand scheme of our existence.  The inertia of daily life carries us along and allows us to make adjustments.

So as an arbitrary new year dawns, flush with grand plans and high expectations and vows of wonders yet to be, we should also pause a moment in gratitude for all that continues.  We are learning that it may be necessary to spend much time and effort protecting all that was, all that is.  The shiny inertia which we inhabit, physical, social, moral, and personal.

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