An answer to the predicament of Planet Earth

Feb 11, 2013

Today’s surprise announcement of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI prompted me to grab a couple of pieces of paper off my desk as I prepared to leave the house for work. I’d found these papers a few weeks ago when I was rummaging through the boxes that contain my journalism clips and other writings from grade school through college.

This was a story I’d written as a high school senior in January 1988 (but post dated), pondering the question of global climate change. It features a resignation, of sorts. I’m publishing it below as a reminder of how goofy I was in high school (connect the dots: I’d just reread Siddhartha, played hockey and listened to Sixties music), but also as a comedic focus on an issue that is even more critical to the Earth than it was 25 years ago.

The Guru of Mugu

January 19, 1989
Anton Zuiker, staff reporter

UPI. Mugu, Nepal…Massive tidal wave destroys Tokyo. Earthquake devastates Los Angeles. Eiffel Tower sheared in half by high velocity winds. Avalanche in Swiss Alps leaves destruction in its wake. Moscow buried under 125 feet of snow.

As you know, I could list the the catastrophes and disasters of the last week in a ten-page report. Our planet is suffering from a plague which has never before been witnessed by human beings, a plague of natural calamities. The top scientists of the world are unable to offer explanation of this. Even the weathermen are baffled.

So, as a very distressed investigative reporter I traveled to this Himalayan mountaintop high in Northern Nepal. Only the great Guru of Mugu would have the answers. I had to consult him.

I found the Guru peacefully strumming a guitar, singing “What a day for a daydream, custom made for a daydreamin’ boy.” With fear and trepidation, but more than all an intense desire to seek the safety of Humankind, I interrupted the great and learned man.

“0 Great Guru, the Guru of Mugu, I am distraught and I need your advice.”

“It had better not be…”

“No. No. No. I do not need the answer to life. I need the answer” – my breath caught in my throat – “to the predicament of Planet Earth. Why are there tornadoes and volcanoes, earthquakes and blizzards? I just don’t understand.” My voice was high-pitched and racing. “Why are all of helpless millions of people dying?”

He answered slowly. “Son, do not fear.”

“But, why…”

He stopped me with a nod. “Sit and I will tell.”

It was a command from a holy one, and I instantly obeyed by sitting on a boulder. The Guru, squatting before me, began.

“You must understand. Mother Nature, our great life-giving force, was tired. For all of those millennia she had labored for the earth. It was she that sent the rains of the Great Flood. She that made the Grand Canyon. Mother Nature blew the winds that sent Columbus to the new world, she that turned on the cold wave that allowed a puny kid named Wayne Gretzky to skate for eight straight months and improve his hockey skills beyond excellence. She worked very hard, believe you me, and she needed a rest. Don’t you agree?”

I nodded, dumbfounded.

He was silent.

I waited.

He continued.

“Mother Nature had two choices. She could work on, tired as she was, or hand the job over to her daughter. She could take the work no longer, so with a sigh she put Daughter Earth to work. And that’s why the calamities occur.”

I nodded, dumbfounded.

He was silent.

I waited.

He was still silent, maybe even asleep.

“But I still don’t understand,” I blurted out.

With a yawn he continued. “Daughter Earth was very inexperienced. Her mother, thinking that she could continue forever, had never bothered to explain to her how exactly to run the earth’s weather patterns. So Daughter Earth is struggling at the controls, trying her best to keep the planet functioning. While she learns the ropes we can do little but wait.

I nodded, dumbfounded.

He was silent.

We waited.

Perplexed, I whispered, “But is Mother Nature nowhere around to help?”

“Son, please understand. Mother Nature, upon retirement and like any good retiree, went to visit her sister, Mother Venus. She recently sent a postcard back, saying she’d be staying on Venus for a year or two. Seems the weather there is simply magnificent. Now do you understand?”

I nodded, dumbfounded.

He was silent.

I waited.

He was asleep again.

I quietly got up to leave.

“Wait,” said the Great Guru of Mugu. “You cannot depart without the lesson.”

“And what, 0 Great One, is the lesson?”

He picked up his guitar, strummed it vigorously, and sang, “Teach, your children well…”

Anton Zuiker

© 2000 Zuiker Chronicles Publishing, LLC