Made the same as the sand

You are on a mission to Mars. Because of the length of the journey, you will never be able to return to Earth. What about our blue planet will you miss the most?

What would I miss the most? Everything:

Water. Fountains; waterfalls, the little fountain in the courtyard at Leeds Castle; the sea, with ships balanced on the horizon like tiny plastic toys; hot showers; rain showers; puddles; floods; ponds; even swimming-pools with their weird chlorine stink…

Sitting about in parks; sun on my ankles and burnishing the top of my head; wind in my hair…

Dry leaves in autumn, crocuses in spring…

Butterflies, mice, baby sparrows, hedgehogs, seagulls, worms, snails.. When you’ve got the Garden of Eden, when you live in a green life-soup, why would you ever exchange it for red aridity and the First Circle of Hell?

satan eve

I’m with Milton’s Satan on this one. Here are the words Milton gives him in Paradise Lost Book 9 (the drawing is by English poet/artist/printer/visionary Willliam Blake)

With what delight could I have walkt thee round, If I could joy in aught, sweet interchange of Hill and Vallie, Rivers, Woods and Plaines, Now land, now Sea, and Shores with Forrest crownd, Rocks, Dens, and Caves; but I in none of these Find place of refuge And the more I see Pleasures about me, so much more I feel Torment within me, as from the hateful siege Of contraries; all good becomes Bane…

This is Satan being almost human as he contemplates the Earth and realises, with sudden anguish, how much he has thrown away for the sake of power.

If the day comes, as presumably it will, when men (and women?) set forth on some sort of Mission to Mars, I hope they can find pressing reasons for leaving Earth. Maybe they owe money to some machete-wielding gangster; maybe they are hankering for a long, slow suicide, because that’s what it would be.

In researching around this post I came across some information on the Bushmen of Botswana, who have been in dispute with the government of Botswana.


This tribe is the most similar to the ancestors common to all of us, but they were denied access to their drinking holes and (unofficially) forcibly evicted from their ancestral homeland by the government of Botswana. They had to fight through the Courts for their continued existence.

They should be elevated from the status where they find themselves. We would all be concerned that any tribe should remain in the bush communing with flora and fauna. (Foreign Minister of Botswana)

How can you have a stone-age creature continue to exist in the age of computers? (Botswana’s former president, Festus Mogae)

Most of the Bushmen have now been moved out to the Reserve – often forcibly, though the government denies this. They were transported to camps outside the game reserve: places like New Xade, awash with disease, prostitution and the cheapest and deadliest booze. Their character as a people is being relentlessly destroyed there. Those who are left are threatened, abused, and forced to get their drinking water from plants and trees. (John Simpson, writing in The Independent)

And here are some of the things the Bushmen say. This is what it feels like to be sent to Mars, without even leaving the planet:

The lion and I are brothers, and I am confused that I should have to leave this place and that the lion can stay.

I was born in this place and I have been here for a very long time. This is my birthright: here, where my father’s body lies in the sand.

We were made the same as the sand.

Like Adam, we are formed from the small dust of the ground. We are made from this Earth and joined with it; and maybe we will only feel the full strength of those ties when they are about to be severed. It will be like cutting the cord – the one that we do not, as yet, even know we possess.






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