So life, continuing its unending struggle, moves on, if perhaps futilely, in search of a new home, a new sanctuary, a new paradise.

Oscar Scholin, 2019

Reaching for fresh cerulean sky, mountains of fire climb slowly from the cool Pacific depths. The gods’ fiery wrath gradually calms, and the sea breathes a sigh of relief….Lapped by the gently sculpting waves and crushed by the forcefully pounding breakers, the harsh, jagged edges of the rock beaches erode into pure black sand, and the ancient skeletal remains of living organisms coalesce to form pure white sand. Eventually, small dots of green lichen colonize the salt-crusted volcanic rocks, and wild grasses begin to grow on the barren black landscape. Strikingly beautiful sunset-colored hibiscus, with rings of white surrounded by hues of amber, scarlet, and faint pink, bloom as if kissed by the morning sun and watered with the drops of silver moonlight. Sweet fruit trees blossom, as if by the magic of some Arab genie, from the grass-covered rocks and imbue a darker hue of green to the newly formed islands….

The arrival of wayfinding Polynesians in their sturdy outrigger canoes to the islands broke the continuous serenity of the scene. For the first time, human footprints would taint the unadulterated beaches and trample the fragile flora. And, what these people brought with them would fundamentally alter the landscape of the islands for generations to come: new flora and fauna. But the wayfinders were merely vehicles for the continued evolution of the islands….Reaching towards the sky, the skinny trunks of coconut palms grow with alacrity, and their sweet fruit falls back down to the earth. Nature once more breathes a sigh of relief, as the harmony of life once again returns to the islands and an endless summer ensues….

But one fateful day, the white sails of some foreign ship, a harbinger of a new world order, blotted out the interminable horizon for eternity. The natives, and their islands, stared incredulously at what they saw; they had believed they lived in a world to themselves and that whatever had appeared mysteriously on the horizon that day was simply a figment of their imagination, an ephemeral dust clouding their vision. But they were wrong. The once pure white beaches, soiled by the leather footsteps of the new intruders and their metallic muskets, yellowed. The once inexhaustible forests began to wither at the hand of man. The fresh air choked on the acrid soot of industrialization. The dream, the illusion, of paradise subsided quietly into the darkness as the illustrious stars of the night vanish in the strong morning light.

But Mother Nature — and her islands — would not fade quietly into the night. The long dormant tempers of the mountains that built the islands woke, and the earth quaked with intense rage. Great fissures split the land open, and like a bleeding wound, they gushed magma, the blood of the islands. Thick clouds of volcanic ash swallowed men’s factories and plantations and turned shining daylight into the blackest winter night, without moon or stars. When the fiery wrath ended, only the barren skeleton of what had once existed remained. Now the dying islands slumped helplessly into the sad, dark sea….

Not all was lost, however: a faint green covering of lichen slowly began to repopulate the bleak black wasteland. Grasses and flowers, perhaps spontaneously, sprung from the dead volcanic ash; vibrant fish found their way to new habitats of coral reefs supported by the decaying structures of the islands. Migratory birds, blown hundreds of miles off course by a raging tempest, fortuitously spotted the islands and made them their sanctuary. Once more, life flowed from the ridges, valleys, rivers, and beaches, until the last remnant of the islands finally sank beneath the waves and the fish no longer congregated in the decayed residual atolls….

So life, continuing its unending struggle, moves on, if perhaps futilely, in search of a new home, a new sanctuary, a new paradise.

In this musing, I wanted to reflect upon the nature of paradise and how too often throughout the course of our history paradise has been defiled at the hand of man. From the Garden of Eden to modern day industrialism, man has been unable to resist the temptations that paradise — our Earth — offers and has caused great destruction as a result. Life, however, will outlive us and our mistakes, and so I see a longing, persistent hope in the idea of a thriving Earth many millennia from now when we are long past.