It’s such an intriguing thought to think that graphite and diamond are made of essentially the same substance, simply arranged differently, having a different backstory. How it’s only their differences at a structural level that create their divergent forms and qualities: one of the softest minerals or one of the hardest and most prized. It’s quite beautiful really, that the basic stuff of life can take such different paths.
The way that fundamental choices such as the bonds we make might make all the difference to outcomes. That time, heat and pressure can paradoxically produce something immensely strong, beautiful and valuable. There seems a lot of meaning there – many lessons we could take away from the wisdom nature offers us (see Notes One).
Carbon being one of these essential building blocks of life, it’s quite amazing to think how versatile it is and all the ways it sustains and enriches our existence. Science can seem a little complex and pedantic sometimes, but at its core there’s almost this beautiful poetry around the truths of matter, time, and relationships formed.
In many ways, existence can seem strangely beautiful on that level: how we’re all, inexplicably, here and alive and made of these substances in near-constant flux. The materials that make up life shifting in and out of different forms as they take this dance between night and day, summer and winter, warmth and cold; building up the changes over the years, the centuries, the eons of time.
We can get so caught up in all the differences, all the labels and divisions we, as humans, have created and sustained over the lifetimes; the accumulated history, meaning, cause and consequence of our time here on earth. The civilisations that’ve risen and fallen, the things we’ve learnt and passed on, building on the shoulders of what’s gone before. We carry a lot of weight, it seems, from that past (Notes Two).
And it’s incredible to think, really, the lives we’ve built for ourselves: all the advancement in knowledge and complexity of understanding; all the richness of human institutions in their pursuit of justice, wisdom, progress. It’s amazing to think of all that’s gone into the leaps that’ve been made in recent centuries, and the relative security and cooperation that’s been prioritised and brokered between us all.
Of course, none of that’s perfect. In all these areas, we might try our best; but agreeing over what’s best or what’s acceptable is never going to be easy (Notes Three). People have different agendas, different priorities, different views on life. We all have our history, standing on different sides of different battles over the years, impacted in different ways. Agreeing on one thing can be hard; agreeing on everything might seem impossible.
But it’s intriguing to wonder what is possible, what we might be able to pull together from the building blocks of matter and humanity. What we’re doing here, how we’re relating to what’s around us? All that can seem to hold great potential sometimes.
Notes and References:
Note 1: Aesthetic value of nature
Note 1: Nature speaks in many ways, do we listen?
Note 2: Does anything exist in isolation?
Note 2: Freedom, what to lean on & who to believe
Note 3: The philosopher stance
Note 3: Dealing with imperfection
Note 3: Starting over in life