She sat down with her friends. “We are Womyn — hear us roar!!!” she proclaimed to the rushing waters of the river in the bottom of the canyon below them.
They rested for a moment, some taking swigs from their collapsible, BPA-free drinking jugs, some chewing on energy bars and some photographing their friends.
Palatia looked at her mobile phone. “Does anyone have a recent photo of Ellen? This ol’ talk show still photo doesn’t do her justice.”
The tinest piece of lint floated out of a space between Palatia’s thumb and her mobile phone.
The lint followed the invisible, random path of static electricity, air currents, solar radiation and macromolecules suspended in the dry air.
None of the day hikers knew what the lint was doing there, let alone why.
The lint had no discernible thought patterns to speak of.
But the lint was the most important link between that moment and a moment hundreds of years later.
Palatia pushed earbuds millimetres from her eardrums, cranked up some retro k.d. lang tune on her mobile phone and stood up. “Bag your trash! Pack your gear! Let’s roll!”
The lint was dragged along with the hikers for a while before a cool breeze from the valley pushed up over the canyon rim and turned the lint in another direction.
History was in the making.
Palatia was a key component of the cogs and wheels of social change on the day she decided to call in sick and skip her shift at the fast food factory labeled “Grab-n-Go Burgers, 24/7.”
The deliverer of a piece of lint.
Lint that carried a genetic message.
A message intended for someone not yet “born,” the culmination of years of research, a being not quite any one species, neither completely organic nor completely electromechanical.
The lint didn’t earn a wage, didn’t pay taxes, didn’t travel roads or depend on national defense to perform its function.
The lint didn’t breathe, it didn’t eat, it didn’t earn an education, it didn’t produce heirs and it didn’t vote.
Yet the lint was more important than all the billions of people who earn a wage, pay taxes, travel roads, depend on national defense to perform their function, breathe, eat, earn an education, produce heirs and vote.
Events millions of years later in a single galaxy were traced to the piece of lint.
The lint, though inanimate, was analysed, idolised and denigrated as if it was once alive.
What if a cloud had obscured the Sun from a group of hikers one day?
What if it had rained?
More than one “if” fills volumes of historic pondering about a piece of lint.
We call them genetic markers.
The lint called itself nothing.
Yet here it is, studied as if it had intent in at least one “if.”
All because a worker in a minimum-wage job decided to tell her shift supervisor “fuck you” and take the day off, absolutely no thought about changing the course of galactic history.
Simple scenario, you ask, too simple?
The truth is plainer than you think it is.