Death From Above 2013
Here's a little something to think about over your Family Day long weekend: While you're tobogganing with the kids, or baking cookies together – or doing whatever it was Dalton McGuinty intended for this made-up holiday – in a blink of an eye, it could all be over.
Yes, a cheery consideration in the dead of winter. But also an accurate one. For a few bright seconds this morning, residents of a central Russian city didn’t know what the hell was going on. Was a shoddily built Soviet-era passenger aircraft disintegrating on final approach? Was someone belatedly celebrating Chinese New Year? Did that punk North Korean kid with the bad haircut accidentally aim one of his new toys in the wrong direction? If that flaming meteor and its glistening white tail weren’t awesome enough, the sonic boom that shook the city – breaking windows and toppling walls – certainly managed to get everyone's attention.
On this same day, an asteroid charted a historic path, coming within about 28,000 kilometres of Earth. If it had collided with our planet, the eggheads say, an area about twice the size of Cape Breton would have been destroyed. That's a lot of Nova Scotians gone in a second.
Scientists say it’s inevitable that a meteor big enough to do serious damage will hit us again. And that has to make you wonder whether finally getting around to fixing that back gate or repainting the bathroom is really worth it.
You could work off that extra 15 pounds of flab to reach your ideal weight ... but you could also go to Baskin Robbins and buy a 4,700-calorie ice-cream cake in the shape of Thomas the Tank Engine.
Maybe such dilemmas aren't the biggest decisions we have to wrestle with when we know it could all go boom at any moment.
This day should put into perspective how events originating from a universe so big can make our own existence – and our own daily problems – seem so small. We agonize over the inconsequential with such pettiness, the gods who sent these space rocks in our direction must be laughing. My salad has too much dressing. That driver just gave me the stink-eye. I hate that co-worker because she has a $1,300 handbag.
On a larger scale, we as nations act like spoiled children in a playground. With our cliques and grudges. With our pride and prejudice. One has to wonder whether we really are interested in getting along.
Maybe a big old rock to our planet's gut would make us all realize how much time we've wasted and how little time we may have left.