A family reunion 1.5 billion years in the making


around cam’s turkey sig

Cameron Luker

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and so is, arguably, the most American holiday: Black Friday.

What could be a better way to follow a day dedicated to being thankful for what we have, than a day dedicated to buying more stuff? This year, why not stretch your thankfulness beyond a 24-hour window and shoot for 48.

If we dedicate those first 24 hours to spending quality time with our family, then what should be do with the remaining 24? Maybe we can take some time to spend it with our extended family. Not your half-brother’s third cousin. I mean your family from 1.5 billion years ago. This is when our unicellular great-great-great-great etc. grandmother split off from what would become plants and fungi.

She and her children grew and multiplied, but they still kept in touch with their not so far away family. They all lived in the same community, sharing resources and energy. Each side of the family grew more and more complex: grandchildren and cousins and uncles branched out across time, yet the community stayed close-knit. They developed vast systems of sharing nutrients so that everyone could succeed. The families spread all across the Earth but they stayed in touch. Wherever they moved, they found ways to survive and flourish. This family began to change the Earth. They worked to create soil and atmospheres that would help their future generations, passing on a legacy that has persisted for epochs.

Then, the black sheep of the family appeared. Just like every other member, it needed the family to survive, but it was content to pillage and destroy the gifts it was given without remorse or repayment. This black sheep even killed off thousands of its other cousins, cauterizing bloodlines that had been flowing longer than many rivers. What kind of evil would possess someone to harm their own family other than the evil of ignorance? This rogue cousin has forgotten that they were part of this family and had ignored the responsibilities of their legacy. Now, the cousin, seeing the destruction that they caused, has begun to realize that they are a single nexus in the vast web that they have been hacking apart.

Now, it is time for a family reunion. Could there be a better day to get back in touch and make amends than Black Friday? Instead of taking more from our family that has given us so much, why not give back. Sure, you can go out and plant trees or pick up litter, but just a little quality time on a walk can mean the world. A walk is in the woods is a walk through time with our most venerable ancestors, and they have a lot to teach us. They have been making it on this Earth much longer than we have, and we will need their help if we plan on making it much longer ourselves.

Before the cold and dark drive us inside for the next few months, take some time to bring yourself, your parents, cousins, uncles, grandparents, friends, and dogs more closely to the rest of our great, big, beautiful family.