Whales, clickbait, and escaping the downpour.
It’s raining today in Vancouver.
Oh man, is it raining.
So I figured that I’d throw it out there that a great place to seek shelter is the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of British Columbia.
This is a Blue whale skeleton. 26 Metres long.
It had two tiny little pelvic bones. They say this is all that’s left of the rear limbs of its land-dwelling ancestors.
Can you imagine? You’ve got this animal crawling out of the ocean a while ago… And it’s on the land for long enough that it decides to go back in. (At least that’s how I think it worked.)
The Kudus on display…. Beautiful, frightening.
And it’s weird to see them like this; most of the time I see them — alive — in a photograph on Facebook.
How often have you scrolled social media, to see some article posted with a headline like “Africa as you know it will be gone soon.”
Do you “like” or “share” an article like this?
I do…I figure by clicking, then I’m saving the animal.
Then I keep scrolling to more nonsense.
But there’s no scrolling now. There’s nobody in the Facebook who notices what a champion of the animals I am.
There’s only this beautiful face. It’s empty. It’s looking back at me.
I think about social media.
I read articles about what’s going on to the world and it ratchets me up to “rather upset”.
And — If I’m like you — I’m guilty of wasting time on social media. I want to do something. Yet I have to tone down this urge. The last thing I want to become is the living stereotype of a sanctimonious hippy.
“You need to watch out for that guy…. he turns even the most banal comment into a crusade”
I shudder. I keep walking. Eventually these thoughts float away.
This museum… It’s the struggle of people trying to make sense of something that’s incomprehensible. Billions of years of evolution.
This museum… the people here right now — “Whoosh!” In an instant we’ll be just a flicker amidst the shadows of churning mountains.
Thoughts of social media come back to me.
Thoughts of doing something…
I pass by a Northern Spotted Owl.
A note reads that only 8 pairs are known to exist in British Columbia.
My mind briefly wonders if I ought to remember this…. Can I use this information to win an argument? Is this news of near-extinction supposed to be shoved in someone’s face?
I keep walking. I decide not to let this day be about me and my own obsessions and my own ego.
I go back to the Kudus. I look at the faces beyond the glass.
The faces aren’t saying anything.
This isn’t a post on Facebook.
“When you click here… WHOA!”
There’s nothing but a temporary depiction of once-vibrant life.
Yes and no… you can walk around this museum and see rows and rows of animals and exhibits. You can see billions of years of this adventure that we’ve all been invited to.
I walk back to the whale. I walked under it, looked up.
It had washed up on the shores of Prince Edward Island in 1987.
It had been buried and laid in the ground for decades. Its death was probably caused by a collision with a ship.
You know what? You can do worse things with your life than try to talk to people about how we could stop whales from dying due to collisions with ships.
Back to social media;
Back to my own ego… My own sanctimonious nature… My antagonistic impulses.
I’ll never be entirely not snarky.
But perhaps the next time someone fires out a funny joke about whales or logging or hippies or climate change…. Perhaps I could respond with a link for a coupon to the Beaty Museum.
You should go for a visit.
It’s a wondeful place to escape from the rain.