Please be aware that this story contains brief harsh language.
I opened up the Internet and typed in “the age of the earth.” But I didn’t find out the age of the earth. Instead, there were a couple of music videos from obscure indie-pop bands with songs titled “The Age of the Earth”, so I watched those for a bit. I didn’t even find an estimate of the age of the earth. The closest thing I could find were videos of a bunch of old fogeys debating how old the earth might be. In some videos, they were old Christian fogeys. In some videos, they were old atheist fogeys. And in some videos, the Christian fogeys and the atheist fogeys got together and debated against each other, as if their colleagues weren’t enough for them.
And that’s the part that confused the hell out of me: we marvel around, wondering how old the earth is, as if that could somehow tell us where we are going, or what is going to happen to us.
But that’s not the only thing that confused the hell out of me, to be honest. The fact that I spent a couple of hours watching old fogeys talk about something that didn’t matter to me confused the hell out of me, as well.
That’s not the whole truth, though, to be honest. I don’t care about the age of the earth, but Mrs. Henderson wants me and every one else in BIO 424 to care. Or at least, care enough to write a paper about it. Our class talked about the age of the earth for a whole week, and she made us watch several more long videos of old fogeys, enlightening us with their expert insight into the debate.
One of the “mysteries of the universe,” they called it. One of the keys to “unlocking the secrets of the earth.”
That confused me a bit more, because I had a long list of things that I thought were Mysteries of the Universe, and the Age of the Earth wasn’t one of them. I’m still trying to figure out what the hell is going on with my life, and whether or not I should drop out of Edenton, or if it would be worth finishing school so that I could try to go to grad school and become a fucking lawyer. And if I did become a lawyer, I’m still wondering if that would actually get me any closer to being who I want to be, or if I would have better luck if I just sold all my textbooks, along with my bicycle and that wristwatch my mother gave me when I turned fourteen, and travelled to Asia.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t just go online and watch videos of old fogeys debating my mysteries of the universe. But I don’t care, because the age of the earth doesn’t matter to me.
So instead of turning in that paper on the Age of the Earth, threaded with opinions from old atheists and old Christians, I wrote a fantastic paper about whether or not I should drop out of school, or really go for the lawyer thing.
The only difference between the age of the earth and the real mysteries of my universe is that the age of the earth isn’t decided by anyone. It can’t be changed, argued with, planned, or altered. It just keeps progressing, one second at a time.
My future, on the other hand, is easily altered. And in my case, a BIO 424 grade from Mrs. Henderson can have a profound impact on the only mystery of the universe that really matters.