Thursday, 31 December 2009


The sigh had been building in me for days. As I finally let it out, my breath hung in the air before me, a cloud of weariness visible. The heater was broken, again. The breath slowly faded away; my jadedness didn’t.

On my wall I had a rather nice and not inexpensive map of the Solar System, the Sun on the left, the other planets neatly radiating out from it at even intervals, with Neptune on the far right. About a third of way across, the lacuna; the ever-present absence around which we have all developed a blind spot.

What remains unsaid about these maps is that they are a lie. We’re so alone that we are literally unable to picture it; no map can be to scale and capture the emptiness between us. An inaccuracy to convenience cartographers and comfort the poor buggers who live out here.

I banged the heater to try and get it working again. What, exactly, is the point? We are more isolated than any humans in history, rejected by our mother like no other people before. Burrowed into snow holes beneath a dirty ball of ice, we huddle together in a desperate attempt to keep warm, clinging on to life by our fingernails. And yet still we lie, cheat, steal and kill. We fight each other even while we fight for survival.

But is that our final condemnation or the crowning achievement of our tenacity? Does that make us mankind’s nadir or its zenith? Whatever gets thrown at us, still we make the time to be really, really unpleasant to each other. Are the pimps and pornographers outside my door, all the event of the last few days, testament to man’s fundamental awfulness or its indomitable spirit?

Sometimes I wonder whether we are the Universe’s supreme achievement or its worst nightmare. For better or worse, and despite millennia of our own best efforts, nothing has managed to stamp us out. Even the cockroaches went extinct a century ago.

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