The Miracle Is that We Survive

27 May

“We’ve reached a critical desalination point!” – Jack Hall

“It’s going to get bad! Really, really bad!” – Sam Hall

Whenever the weather gets rough, it’s inevitable that my husband, one of my sons, or I will find a way to quote Jack or Sam. The Day After Tomorrow is so simultaneously awful and wonderful that it’s hard to resist. (We’ve no idea how Dennis Quaid or Jake Gyllenhaal managed to say either of these lines without cracking up.)

There’s a certain fascination to the idea of the world ending, partly because we all know it’s possible – and probably likely at some point – and partly because hard evidence points toward inevitable and noticeable change in our global environment. (Yes, climate change IS happening. Sorry, Republicans and conspiracy theorists.)

Last week’s tornado in Moore, Okla., and last fall’s Hurricane Sandy were near the extreme end of their respective scales, but some scientists are predicting that storms of this size will become the norm.

When we do finally agree that change is happening, how will we react to it?

We’ll continue to live and love, while finding new ways to adapt to our new situation. Colonization of a far off planet certainly seems in the cards, but it’s the day-to-day human experience that will likely stay the same. We’re creatures of habit, in a way.

That’s the way that Karen Thompson Walker presents it in her wonderful “The Age of Miracles.”

Walker envisions a different kind of disaster: the world is slowing down. Days and nights are growing longer, and the effect on nature and the world as we know it is devastating. It’s not completely debilitating, at least not yet. Julia is just 11 and ¬†adolescence – her age of miracles – coincides with this new way of life.

This isn’t a complicated novel, either in plot or characters, and its real focus is on Julia’s coming of age. But it’s the small details that make the story special: how people cope with “clock time,” the hundreds of beached whales and the strange reaction of the cats. I found myself thinking about this alt-Earth long after finishing.

Well, I do love to ponder “what if” scenarios.

Climate change or not, the world will change, but human nature will not. We’ll continue to fight over things that don’t matter; we’ll continue to find love and lose love; we’ll continue to find ways to survive using our natural ingenuity. In the end, there is hope.

Even on the day after tomorrow.

Later, I would come to think of those first days as the time when we learned as a species that we had worried over the wrong things.

– Julia in The Age of Miracles


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: