Friday, January 22, 2016


Clockwise - Blue dot: North American plate, Pacific plate, Philippine plate, Eurasian Plate. 

Like everyone else alive today I got here late, tectonically speaking; by the time I arrived, Pangaea was little more than a crackpot hypothesis. 

Soon after reality set in, I learned that I'd been born and raised on the North American plate, which will always be my tectonic home (does one ever truly leave home plate?) but soon flew across the Pacific plate to the Eurasian plate where, during my first years of Tokyo drift, I occasionally traveled to land masses on the Philippine plate and the Eurasian Plate, which, as it happens, bears Kyoto and the Kansai region generally southward, at about 1 cm per month.

Subsequently, as personal transience would have it, in 1980 Standard Continental time I moved to Kyoto via the Shinkansen, which leaves tectonic speed in the dust; even going by foot is faster than any plate on earth. Accelerated existence on my new quake-prone plate has nevertheless been every bit as delightful as my times on the various other plates that go to make up the well-lived tectonic life.

Nowadays, it seems a lot of folks are content just to drift maybe a few centimeters a year on their birthplates while gliding imperceptibly through life, but as a traveler who - like anyone else - can walk faster than any plate, staying pretty much in place while moving indiscernibly is a lifestyle I could never quite accept. The solar system whirls galactically through accelerating space, earth spins and glides its way through the starlit void, its own many plates drift across vast seas of turbulent magma, why in the world should we ourselves remain in place, platefully speaking? It seems not to be in our universal nature; are we not platal in origin?

However big the picture, tectonic movements can be confusing on many levels. As if national citizenship weren’t illusion enough, the constant flux of all these plates, resolutely immune to autocratic fiat, renders them even more illusory than borders. As a native of the shifting North America plate, which glides down over the top of the Pacific plate to add northern Japan to Japan but never quite makes it to Kyoto, all I can truly say is that by birth I am Terran.

That blue jewel is a planet to be proud of.

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