The Length of Humanity


The length of humanity is measured in dancing on mountaintops beneath stars and lights. Dancing that says, “We were here, we saw, we witnessed, we laughed, we felt pain, we rejoiced, and we cried as a woman in a white dress and a man in a yellow bow tie committed themselves to each other, consecrated in beauty.” Dancing that says, “When this is ancient history, ancient as the people who used to live here, it will still remember us and our lights and the way our feet met the earth. Here on the crown of the landscape, we shone, we rang bright and deep, we ate crispy polenta and couscous.”

The length of humanity is measured in leaving the door of your room open to the ocean air all night while you sleep. In bleary eyed travelers shuffling through security toward their gates, the shared experience of people who leave their homes, learn a few things, integrate new experiences into their lives, then return to themselves again.

The depth of humanity is measured in songs played on cellos. Please, tell me what we did to deserve cellos. Just mention the word cello, and whoever you are talking to will swoon, hold their hand to their chest and make a sound like an exclamation mark. “! I love the cello.”

The depth of humanity is measured in fermentation—the wonders of grapes and wheat remind us what it is to be whole. Kimchi, pu’er, wine, and sourdough. The depth of humanity is measured in the blues scale, a fermented major minor form, halfway between all emotions, capable of taking our sad and our joy and dissolving them together to make them the same.

The height of humanity is measured in marble statues and oil paintings. The dreams of Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Velázquez, and Cézanne. I seek the doors of museums compulsively, to be close to the marble and the canvas, the way I seek quiet solitude at the end of a long day.

The width of humanity is measured in the written word, wisdom notated in portable packages. The width of humanity is measured in cuisine, in the care of chefs and cooks and farmers. Hug your chef, hug your cook, hug the people who care for food.

The truth of humanity is measured in your love—in the light that travels seven light seconds from a flaming sphere to land on her arm and illuminate her in your eye. Nothing more and nothing less will do.


Kevin McGillivray

Kevin McGillivray is a web developer and writer in Wisconsin. He writes about creativity, online and offline neighborhoods, and vegetables. He paints and dives.

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