Timothy Scott Bennett Chronicling the Cusp

Shrews of the World

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It’s 65 million years ago, give or take a few hundred thousand. (There’s some debate.) A Thursday. About 10:30 in the morning, Yucatan time. Or was that Ukraine time? Or Indian Ocean time? (There’s some debate.) From out of the sky plummets a huge comet. Or asteroid. Or something. (There’s some debate.) It was about six miles across. Perhaps it wasn’t the first. Perhaps it was the largest. Perhaps it was the last. Whatever. (There’s some debate.)

Whatever wherever whenever it was, it made a Big Boom. So big, in fact, that it warrants capitalization. BOOM.

And that Boom has reverberated down to the present day in major ways, most of which we rarely stop to consider. Think about all the dinosaurs you didn’t see today as you took a walk. Think about the velociraptor that didn’t eat your cat when you let her outside to play. Think about the diplodocus that didn’t trample your tomatoes. Think about the megalosaurs that didn’t hold up downtown traffic this morning. Yeah. Those kind of reverberations. Without that stunning impact at the K-T boundary, our lives today would be even crazier than they already are.

And that Boom had an even more direct effect on us, because without it, likely there would be no us to begin with, the story going that the little mammals living underfoot during the Age of the Dinos, the squirrely little shrewish guys who scurried about and hid in trees and holes and ate insects and worms and dinosaur poop, they somehow managed to survive the Big Boom and, following the mandates of their sacred texts, were fruitful, and multiplied, and repopulated the Earth. And from those ancient shrews, the Age of Mammals truly began in earnest, eventually giving us horses and deers and whales and wabbits and primates, one species of which has now gotten a bit too big for its britches. Or not. (There’s some debate. About this whole narrative.)

Regardless of the actual facts, the story surely has metaphorical power in this present time. As we ride the exponential roller-coasters as high as we can go, the end of that particular strategy looks particularly poised to whack us upside our collective heads just like that comet strike of yesteryore. As allegorical stand-ins for the dinosaurs, we have such things as the growth imperative, predatory capitalism, political and financial corruption, and social madness, an entire jungle’s worth of unsanities and habits and beliefs and values all now headed the way of the dodo, as the mystics and statistics say they will, to swipe a bit of poetry from that wry bard, Warren Zevon. And that gives those of us who can see and hear these saurian institutions thrashing and bellowing and starting to die the opportunity to make like a shrew and skedaddle out from underfoot as the institutions of empire fall around us.

Now, there’s debate about all of this as well. Of course there is. Some people feel called, not to hide in burrows or skedaddle up a tree, but to challenge the dying lizards directly, helping them to perish more quickly, perhaps, and in a way that creates less havoc. And many would argue that there is no skedaddling to be had at all now, here at the Cusp, as the dinosaurs, this time, are intent on taking us all down with them, turtles and sunfish and corals and pelicans and bats and sheep and shrews and the rest. As for the first point, my heart says that people need to follow their individual callings, and that there are many ways to resist, some more direct than others. My job is to honor and encourage and support people as they do what they feel called to do, and not get lost in arguments about the “one right way.” Staying out from underfoot is one of the things a shrew can do. So is resisting directly. In fact, those who resist directly may have even more need of learning how to stay out from underfoot.

As for the second point, while I hold it as distinctly possible that the bleakest predictions might one day prove correct, I do not see that there’s any certain knowing to be had about exactly how the human-built world will transmogrify or unwind. Given that, it makes sense to me to follow my own calling and vision for as long as I can, on the belief that it might make a real and helpful difference to someone.

So that’s what this blog is about. Living in this time of the Cusp. Chronicling my experience as I do so. Keeping one eye on the dinosaurs as they roar and kick and scream and die. Keeping the other eye on what visions I can muster, the possibilities and fascinations and excitements which will call me forth into the work I came here to do. Given that much of my previous work focused more closely on the dinosaurs, I’m going to try to keep more attention now on the questions of vision, purpose, calling, and meaning. As Harvey Harmon said in What a Way to Go, “what does a well-lived life look like?” Especially when that life is being lived in the time of dying dinosaurs.

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Timothy Bennett

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Timothy Scott Bennett Chronicling the Cusp

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