I am Always in Awe of Humanity’s Insignificance – Just Dust in the Wind

That dust in the wind settles everywhere. Book cover on a desert floor background.
That’s one dusty desert floor!

Reading this book, I kept remembering that scene from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, when Ted is waxing philosophical with So-Crates. “All we are…is dust…in the wind.”

“The speeding wind rumples the surface of the oceans into whitecaps. Whitecaps are masses of bubbles. When those bubbles burst, little droplets of salt water fly into the air. The water evaporates, and a little crystal of salt remains, airborne.”

The secret life of dust by hannah holmes

And that is why we smell the salty air long before we can see the ocean. I love the smell of dust in the wind, tiny particles that float on the air and are blown for miles, even across oceans.

I live about 80 miles from the Salton Sea in California and on days when a storm brings the wind from the south, up over the Gulf of California, I don’t need a weather report to tell me. The rotten smell of the dying lake reaches all the way up here, 80 miles across and 3500 feet up.

But according to this book, that’s just a tiny jump for dust. Dust from the Saharan desert covers South American jungles. And dust from Japan floats over the American Southwest. Crazy to think, but it’s true. Nature is one wild thing.

“Rivers of dust flow around the world, riding the invisible currents of the air. They are such an integral part of the planet that without them, rain and snow would be rare. But now, as scientists map these subtle rivers, they’re troubled by a human addition to the natural dusts. The dust rivers are becoming dangerous. And they flow from one nation to the next without discrimination.”

the secret life of dust by hannah holmes

One question always pops into my head when people write or speak about how humans do unnatural things. Are we not a natural part of this planet? Did we not evolve here along with the rest of the natural world? Why is it that if mankind dams up a river it’s unnatural, but if a beaver does it beautiful?

Yes, it is cliché, but all we are is dust in the wind.

This earth does not give a damn what creatures live on it. Species come and go; they evolve, they thrive, they grow and overwhelm the resources, they adapt (or not) and then they die out and are replaced. All species, including humans. This is the natural cycle. And we are a part of it, a conscious and intelligent part of it, yes, but still natural and still insignificant in the grand scheme of the universe.

That doesn’t mean we can’t try to make things better. We can use these big brains to cooperate and adapt, to make our civilization last as long as possible, but we are not outside of the natural world any more than an ant colony, a wolf pack, or a virus is.

I wrote about this wonderful book back in January. Hop over the post, “The Secret Life of Dust” by Hannah Holmes to read my first thoughts on it.

Have you read this book? Want to read along with me? Go get The Secret Life of Dust and leave me a comment about your thoughts on it. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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