I happened to glance skyward during dinner on the outside deck @ Paradise Grill a few weeks ago & noticed a brilliant dropping blue flare in the western sky, thinking it was some kind of failed fireworks. Turns out it was our very own Bay Area meteor, appearing on the same day as expected asteroid fly-by 2012 DA14, & real skyfall newsmaker: the dramatic & unexpected Chelyabinsk, Russia meteor.
Friday Feb. 15th seemed to be a major asteroid/meteor day on the home planet. By now we all know that meteors are asteroids which enter the earth’s atmosphere. Shooting stars – very small meteors – are what we see most often, & meteorites are skyfall that survives
the searing trip through earth’s atmosphere, eventually laying around near meteor impact sites for excited humans to discover. Scientists assure us there’s no connection between these three February 15th events, & that earth is constantly being bombarded by asteroids, most of which are tiny, burn-up during entry, &/or fall unobserved into the ocean (…71% of the earth’s surface being ocean, after all).
Asteroid contact with Earth is random & unavoidable. It causes major extinctions (the most recent being Chicxulub, pronounced chick-zuh’-lub, 65 mya) & leaves huge holes in our landscape. It happened unexpectedly last month & it will happen again.
If you count deaths, we were lucky this time – no humans died on February 15th due to these three asteroids. But many people and other living creatures did die that day, and days before & after, in random & unpredictable circumstances that, with human hindsight, we will try to understand & explain. We will ask ‘what-if’ and ‘why’ thousands of times, & we will move through the days attempting to craft our stories of what we saw & heard, what we think we know, what we thought we knew, how it has changed us, & if & how we can change anything to feel safer & more secure into the future.
I’d originally, a few weeks ago, entitled the draft of this post “Why I love Jupiter”, in appreciation of Jupiter’s huge role in encouraging asteroids to hang around their own neighborhood in the Asteroid Belt, just beyond Mars, rather than heading out on an independent journey around the Sun (& maybe someday, into a potentially disastrous – for us – rendezvous with Earth). But then, mid-sentence it seemed, more randomness showered down, crises multiplied, daily life became heavier than usual, & now, here we are, again on a path of recovery & accommodation.
It seems to me that in light of these greater forces in the universe, safety & security are illusory. Skyfall happens. Nevertheless, human primates highly value the embrace of love & security, & we’re righteously thankful for those in our lives who help us feel that way.
- in honor of Jupiter, & of those whom we embrace and who embrace us in this circle of life.