Saturday, May 28, 2011

Some idle thoughts on water

This may make no sense what-so-ever but I've been thinking about water. More specifically I've been thinking about our attitude to the ancientness of water.

Let me put it like this. When we see a moutain in general we go something like 'Ohhhh' and then often we'll have some thoughts about how impressive it is.

I certainly think about how old that mountain is and how that same mountain won't just have been experienced by generations of humans, but by all the generations of humans and loads of things that went before us too.

Sure, we've shaped the natural landscape significantly and when wandering through a London park I don't tend to have any deeper thought than where my next kebab is coming from, but by and large mountains are one part of the landscape that have a certain permanence.

They've been around and we give them an emotional significance because of that. Likewise ancient standing stones, great valleys and all sorts of cool, impressive stuff that has a lot of terrain-i-tude. Kudos to them all.

However, as I was being rained on earlier today I got to thinking. I stared at a drop of water on my hand and contemplated its history. Well most of us know the basics of how rain happens in a cycle. It rains, the rain soaks into the soil, that water collects and eventually makes its way into a river, that river makes its way into the sea and the water is taken from the sea into clouds that then rains on your washing as it hangs out to dry. And again, and again, and again.

That's a cycle that has been taking place for something like, oh, 4,000 million years or thereabouts. With the exact same water. The same rain that tried in vain to soak me today might have been the very same water that Napoleon's horse drank and weed out again. I feel kind of priveleged. It might have been drunk by the very last Tricerotops or the very first Woolly Mammoth - it was certainly around then.

Water has been the very stuff of life since before life got going, and by and large very little stuff that was water becomes anything more than water mixed with other stuff (like being part of a lizard), or water arranged as a vapour or a solid. Very little that wasn't water gets into a situation where it becomes water. Almost all of the water we have now was still water billions of years ago, and it still finds time to stop play at Lords. Cool.

But our attitude to water is rarely of awe. Even when it is arranged into an ocean that's been sat there for millions upon millions of years we don't tend to have those same thoughts that we might when confronted by a desert or a majestic set of rolling hills. We can be impressed by its size, enjoy its pleasures but I don't think we tend to reflect upon its age.

I suspect that's because we find construction fascinating and the building blocks of life common place - because they are no matter how special. It may be a passing thought but I still reckon that it's an important fact that each humble rain drop has been around for, what, a thousand times longer than the human race, including false starts? I think that deserves a little bit of respect, surely.

1 comment:

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