A moment in Paradise- Lost

I sat alone on my island of sand, warm sun on my skin. Twisted oaks clung to the cliff edges that surrounded me. A fortress from the world except for those who, like me, come by sea. 

The only footsteps on the sand were mine. It was perfect. 

I watched a golden oak leaf tumble back and forth in the gently lapping waves. And I saw how the light created a blue-green pool in the shallows where the pale sand met the foot of the cliff. 

I felt the transience of my visit to this earthly paradise and tried to savour the moment, for I would not be long alone. The metaphor was not lost on me.

But something was wrong. The idyll in my mind’s eye did not match the reality. Is it paradise if there is no one to share it? There was too a tinge of sadness and of a paradise lost.

I thought how we have spoiled our beautiful world, taking more from the earth than she can give. How we carelessly pollute.

It was only last week I read that we humans have used a year’s worth of resources in just seven months and the rate of consumption is still accelerating. Earth overshoot day came two days earlier than last year. We’re using nature 1.7 times faster than our ecosystems can regenerate.

In another article, a domino effect of events contributing to global warming could be irreversible. The dramatic loss of bees and other pollinators another threat to our existence. A global water crisis looming for our burgeoning populations?

I thought of all the plastic in the sea and on the shore and the scarcity of fish. I thought of deforestation and of the melting ice sheets.

I thought of the cancer that ravages our population- one in two of us here in the UK.

Yes, we’re all to blame. Our greed and pride is our downfall.

I was married 23 years ago today in another Island Paradise- the Dominican Republic. There were two other English couples who were married at the same time. We still keep in touch. All three couples have been affected by cancer.

All the talk of a no-deal Brexit seems a little trivial in the midst of such calamity and my little paradise seemed more fragile.

Our government seem determined to press on with the spiralling costs of the HS2 Rail link from London to the Midlands through ancient woodlands and a quarter of the staff are on 3 figure salaries.

I keep seeing statistics in social media to promote the successes of human activity. One such organisation is humanProgress.org who this week offered 40 ways in which the world is getting better.

These include that more people than ever own a personal computer, the size of US homes increases every year, global labour productivity has shot up over the last six decades and more people than ever are travelling by air. I think they’re missing the point.

The depressing list goes on… there are more cellular phone subscriptions than people. And more dubiously stated facts, such as cancer rates are declining and the price of common food items has declined. 

It all seemed a rather crass effort to keep the plebs happy with their lot; to keep calm and carry on.

Just like Satan in Miton’s Paradise Lost we tell ourselves little lies to make our loss more bearable rather than confront our greed. We distract ourselves and of course, ‘the mind is it’s own place and can make a heav’n of hell and a hell of heav’n.’

We all must know it will take more than mortal minds and hands to shut ‘ th’infernal doors’ of Erebus. 

Of course there is hope in Milton’s tale:

‘The first sort by their own suggestions fell,

Self tempted, self-depraved: man falls deceived

By the other first: man therefore shall find grace,

The other none.’

I rose to my feet again and was pleased to see that the incoming tide had erased my footprints. Satisfied with this conclusion I climbed onto my paddle board once more to cross the estuary to Salcombe where my wife awaited my return. And looking up, smiling, from her book,“I’m glad you enjoyed it,” she said.

 

Footnote:

Music for today.  ‘Breathing Underwater’

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