My Grandma once broke up with a boyfriend because he brought a book to breakfast.
She’d met him online during the eHarmony boom. After a few dates, he was invited to spend the weekend at her Mid Michigan bungalow. On Saturday morning she made eggs and coffee to share. And this is where I guess it fell apart -- he sat across the table with a book in his hand.
It’s never the sex, is it? It’s the weight of a thousand tiny moments of drifting attention.
In 1993, a core of bedrock was drilled from beneath the thickest part of the Greenland ice sheet. These are the only rocks ever taken from that place. Joerg Schaeffer’s equipment wasn’t sensitive enough to gather the climate data he knew the minerals contained. He waited. (I wonder, did his attention drift?) Decades later, he finally knows what the rocks know; that a million years ago, when the Earth was as warm as it soon will be, these rocks met the sun.
This tiny rock under that magnificent sheet of ice means a few degrees Fahrenheit means a melted ice sheet means 23 feet of sea level rise. No climate predictions have accounted for this. (I apologize for sounding apocalyptic.)
Small things at orders of magnitude become unimaginably heavy. Our thousand drifting attentions carry us from breakfast to breakfast on this planet that exists in millennia. The pace at which we live is a matter of incompatible scale.
But I can’t comprehend millennia, I live in urgencies and soundbites and five-minute intervals.
Constantly in search of something to anchor me in a scale of time that is not my own. Today there is the way the light hits your nose across the table, the gravel of your voice, the weight of your head in my hand.
The above text is by Liz Ivkovich as part of a series on communication, related to NOW-ID performance A Tonal Caress.