When there is absolutely no trace

The available archives of christopherengland.com step back to 1st January 2007.  That’s all but 7 years of ‘blogging’ that I managed to scrape and fiddle with from the different platforms I used – Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress – and squish all in this one place (currently WordPress).

Now, I was definitely ‘blogging’ before 2007, albeit a lot more intermittently, and I was at the same time doing lots of wordsmithery on the much loved but mainly forgotten AnorakNation.com, although that in itself was more about radio-ish things.  There are fragments of early versions of my, ahem, ‘work’,not included in the archives, that I discovered via the Wayback Machine.

Anyway. When I realised that Boxing Day 2014 was the ten year anniversary of the great tsunami of 2004 that shocked us all as it fairly instantly killed 228,000 human beings, maybe more, maybe around 250,000, since birth records are sparse and whole villages and communities were destroyed, I recalled watching the reports and videos with horror.

This was 2004, before Facebook, before Youtube, so I don’t recall where from, but I do recall being able to watch the clips of people recording the horror as it unfolded, not unlike the hundreds of hours of footage that were recently recorded in Japan as once again humanity was shown to be helpless against such things.  I can vividly remember back in 2004 or maybe very early 2005, sitting at my computer and writing about how I felt vulnerable to the power of nature and how we are so easily erasable.

I have searched for what I wrote at the time but can’t find it.  It is lost in the ether of the internet.  I wanted to republish it on this tenth anniversary, but I can’t.  Instead I will have to try to put it into these new words.

I recall that an entire island was destroyed. It was washed off the map, including all trace of the humans that had inhabited it.  Although lesser in numbers than those who died elsewhere, what got to me was the complete eradication.

I mean, ancient civilisations have come and gone but in many cases their artifacts remain.  Their strange buildings and cultivation of the land remain.  We find their tombs, their bones remain. Their paintings and sometimes their writings all remain.  Despite them being very long gone as a race, as a people, as humans, traces remain.

Not so with the islands that disappeared in 2004.  They have gone without trace. The fact that humanity can disappear without trace frightens me.

Heck, soon I will step off this mortal coil and I will be gone forever. Hopefully I have a good few decades left, but inevitably I will come to a full stop and leave behind the physical line of genealogy, and maybe some of the things I have done and said will have added to the greater good, or maybe even the greater bad.  I will definitely leave behind the human race to keep calm and carry on.  Well, carry on.

But. It is sad that whilst we have to contend with natural disasters we can never ‘fix’, like the 2004 tsunami, that we still have a much bigger enemy to fear, ourselves.

We kill far more of ourselves than nature ever can. And that’s a haunting futility that we could and should fix.