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John heard a knock on his door, knowing that it was probably Aspen. One downside of his Minimalist lifestyle was that his social life had shrunk dramatically, emulating the rest of his routine: always aiming for simplicity, modest frugality, making sure to leave plenty of space, and time, for contemplation. Like his peers, John believed that only by making life easily manageable can one attain clarity of mind. Only though letting go of distractions can one tune into the world around them. Most of all, only by doing these things can they become content, even grateful for wherever they are in their journey. For the majority of the population the Minimalists were losers. They were a depressed version of hippies: without the colours, the songs, the drugs.
And maybe they were right in some way. Being a purist is never good, it leads one to exaggerated behaviours. Yet only the Minimalists were able to recognise the effects of humanity’s exaggerations over the past hundreds of years. Perhaps a more accurate description was that they were introverted empaths. The pain and love that they felt for the planet was so immense, that the importance of the human, and of the self, had become negligible. They led a life of as little impact on the world as they could, but at the same time denied themselves the right to make an impact. Were they resigned doomists? Or visionary pragmatists?
“Come on” said Aspen. “Let’s go see it.”
She grabbed her uncle’s hand, leading him out of the apartment. He quickly managed to snatch his go-to scarf from the top of the couch, as it was unusually cold for late spring. They arrived at the beach knowing they would see something gruesome. Hundreds of fish had already washed up, presumably suffocated under the thick phytoplankton carpet. The sea was still rough, looking like a giant laboratory experiment. It was overgrown with mostly brown phytoplankton that was washing out onto the beach, creating a strip of thick, slimy mucus on the sand. It felt like an apocalyptic judgement day. It was the day when all a human could do was come face to face with their own predicament. The piles of brown mucous gathering on the shore were nature’s message. She was throwing back at humans all the shit that they had thrown at her, all of these centuries.
George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books