Working today, in the laboratory, I came to realize that my time here, in Antarctica, grows short. I have only been here a month; now I have two weeks before departing back to Birmingham, Alabama. The time passed in the blink of an eye. I'm sure the other graduate students will feel the same, when June rolls around.
I have learned and seen much in my time here. I have met, lived with, and conversed with some of the best and well-known scientists in the world. I have been one, of twenty or so scientists, privileged enough to be here. The experience resonates with me, making me feel a bit more accomplished and cognizant of my place in the world. This creates in one a feeling, a feeling that they are now included in something greater than the sum of its parts. As if, no matter what may come, I have been here and left my small mark on the culture of the station, the science conducted here, and the last great frontier of exploration.
I never really imagined I would be here, here of all places and I of all people. I couldn't have written a better storyline for myself, from Washington, D.C., to Birmingham, to the bottom of the world. The world seems so much smaller to me now, having come so far. Distances seem shorter in the mind's eye once traversed. However, my reach seems longer. Traveling what, for me, was not a road less traveled but rather a road not paved has made a greater difference for me now, than ever before.
The influence you and I have on the life of our tiny blue world and its future seems exponentially greater, having been here and witnessing the grandeur that should exist everywhere. This planet was once, and can be again, a beautiful flawless jewel shinning on a dark satin canvas. Our world is unique in our solar system and perhaps the universe.
I feel I am leaving some of myself behind here; perhaps I am hoping to one day return and find it. Perhaps I may seek it out, a feeling of self-discovery, in other far-off corners of our Earth, again leaving mementos wherever I go. Nonetheless, the situation seems, were I to return, Antarctica would not be as I see it now. Would my adventure in this world of ice, stone, water, and salt become legend? The fact is, the way things are changing; the air will never be as clean as today, the sky and seas never as blue, and ambiance never as beautiful as now, today.
Understand the true rarity of the world we inhabit. Understand the abundance of life that also dwells on this world. You are part of that abundance. There is no part of the tree of life that is not connected to another, drawing support from or lending to another. As our world changes, we lose life, we lose diversity, and we find ourselves poorer for it. When a child asks, "What were whales?", what is your answer? Find the truth within yourself; this world is not just the responsibility of others. Be responsible for your part, if not for yourself then for those who'll come afterwards.
The opportunity to be here at Palmer has truly changed my world view. The goodwill and unilateral cooperation I have witnessed here was amazing. The idea of unilateral cooperation would've seemed ridiculous to me, sans my experience in the Antarctic. Here, where little civilization to no civilization exists, the citizens and scientists of many nations exemplify the true meaning of humanity. By lend a helping hand to each other daily and continuously, they find strength and synergism in their concerted effort. The nations here in Antarctica are a shining example of how diplomatic relations should work worldwide.
If the international community focused their efforts and agendas towards the common good of and problems affecting all people, as here, this would be a much better world. There may be a chance to preserve and save our planet from mankind's appetite for an unsustainable lifestyle.
I feel honored to have my name amongst those who have seen, with their own eyes, the far-off and wild expanses still present, detached from the modern world. I will find it hard to return to that world. I find it hard to reconcile the differences between nature's beauty and mankind's civilization.
In truth, the wilds of nature seem to be much more civilized than any metropolis. The unsustainability and ridiculousness of modern society becomes crystal clear when one is transplanted into the real world; teleport yourself to the real planet Earth.
Contact us at Antarctica@uab.edu
Thoughts on Leaving
- Written by Kevin Scriber
- Parent Category: 2013