Life on Mars

He finished his drink, and said, “Just remember that everything rots, everything decays.”

“That’s dreary,” I replied.

“Really? I thought it rather uplifting.”

“Uplifting? To a nihilist, perhaps.”

“No, not in any negative sense at all. It all depends on your point of view. With the understanding that nothing truly lasts, that everything is bound to erode and disappear into dust someday, we learn to appreciate the now, the things we’re doing right this moment. Who cares how long a legacy is remembered? We won’t be around to appreciate its long-term effects. Far better to concern ourselves with the immediate impact of our immediate actions, wouldn’t you agree?”

“It’s funny you frame it like this. The other day I was thinking about ancient civilizations on Mars.”

He chuckled. “You believe that there were?”

“That’s the thing: we know that there was a lot of water up there at one time. Where there’s water, there’s probably life. Yeah, yeah, there’s a lot of suppositions bundled into that statement but let’s say that life flourished on Mars at some point in the far distant past. How distant? Let’s say a billion years ago, just to be generous. And let’s say that some massive catastrophe extinguished that life, some extinction-level event like a comet strike. A billion years pass. What effect would a billion years of erosion have on a planet? Would it grind all evidence of the once great and wondrous Martian empires to dust? I think so.”

“You’re saying, then, that we would never find a trace of this life, no matter how hard we looked?”

“It’s possible. And it relates back to your point about permanence and legacy. My theory dashes any hope the architects of Mars may have had about their works lasting the test of time.”

“Then let’s hope that they celebrated their achievements in their own time, and in their own way.” He raised his glass.

2014.12.09 – 2023.07.11

Next: Unseasonal Work (192)
Previous: Table For One (190)