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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 circle had suffered from it, shrinking dramatically as it mirrored the rest of his downsized life: always aiming for simplicity, 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 through the complete letting go of distractions can one tune into the world around them. Most of all, only by doing these things can one become content, even grateful for wherever they are in their journey. For the majority of the population the Minimalists were considered to be losers. They were a depressed version of hippies: without the colors, the songs, the drugs.
And maybe they were right in some way. Being a purist is never good, it can lead to exaggerated behaviors. Yet only the Minimalists were able to recognize the effects of humanity’s exaggerations over the past hundreds of years. Perhaps a more accurate description of the Minimalists 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 – yet at the same time they seemed to deny themselves the right to make an impact. Were they resigned doomists? Or visionary pragmatists?
“Come on” said Aspen, trying to wake John up from whatever daydream had taken over him again. “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 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 up onto the beach, creating a strip of thick, slimy mucus on the sand. It felt like an apocalyptic judgement day. It was the kind of day when all a human can do is begin to 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, during 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