Without warning, “normal” ran headlong into the cosmic.
I don’t know how much longer I will be able to type. I’ve locked myself in my room. It’s getting dark, my pad battery is low, and I can hear people outside hurrying around in preparation for nightfall. It’s been two years since the event, and if I don’t write some of this down, I won’t remember how things were and how civilization got where it is now.
Before the Susurrus, when life was “normal,” humanity worked feverishly to produce record amounts of suffering and misery. Corruption ran rampant. Businesses acted like rock stars trashing a hotel room — destroying everything and expecting someone else to handle the clean-up. Politicians were no more than products purchased by the highest bidder. Religion was hardly better. It traded the moral high ground for political power, nationalism and tribalism. With so much moral filth, the human rats and cockroaches were emboldened. Organized crime, white-collar crime, crimes against humanity, human trafficking, radical religionists, pirates, warlords, and a thousand other vermin added to the suffering. There were still plenty of beautiful things to see, but humankind was expelling a nasty, choking smokescreen obscuring the view, making eyes water and the soul weep.
Without warning, “normal” ran headlong into the cosmic. The start and finish of the initial event was hardly noticeable. Aside from the quiet rustling sound that engulfed the entire planet, Earthlings had no immediate indication that anything had changed. If you lived in a particularly windy area, in a noisy city, or near crashing surf, it was easy to have missed the low, gentle sound. Those that could hear it, a susurrus, were not alarmed as it was a small additional voice in the soundscape. For most on the planet, life the next day was much like its predecessors.
The first evidence of change post -Susurrus came with discovering the small, dark green plants with heart-shaped leaves sprouting around the globe. The sprouts were innocuous enough and went mostly unnoticed until residents and scientists found the plants growing in Siberia in the winter and simultaneously in the Sahara. This discovery set-off a worldwide frenzy to determine what the plants were and where they came from. Within two weeks, it was confirmed that the plant was growing on all seven continents. By the beginning of the third week, the plants bloomed, producing large, pale white, pitcher-shaped flowers. The flowers emitted large quantities of an intoxicating and altogether unknown fragrance that scented the air for miles. By the end of the month, the aroma could be smelled almost everywhere on Earth.
Two discoveries were made in quick succession. First, inhaling the plants’ scent is calming and reassuring for the average person, like getting the world’s most amazing hug. However, for those that had experienced trauma or were dealing with mental health issues, the scent is transformative. Addictions, depression, PTSD, and other mental torments are cured within days of coming into contact with the smell. People start calling the plant, Soul Balm.
Second, the passing of the Susurrus changed, so far as scientists can tell, every living thing on the planet. Not one living entity has been found without a tiny cosmic particle embedded within it. For humans, this particle tends to stimulate the creative areas of the brain. Humanity has experienced unbelievable creative production. From art to science and every creative niche in between, the results are remarkable. Novels that move the soul, operas to make one weep with joy, scientific advances, all types of art that speaks to the beauty and complexity of our humanity.
With the flourishing of these things have come peace and new concepts of prosperity. In the last two years, some governments have fallen, while others have fundamentally changed. Megacorporations did not so much collapse as dissolve. All the undertakings and activities that were distracting before are no longer. As the darkest attributes of humanity have been muted, its greatest features have come to the forefront. The world is nowhere near perfect, but progress and hope have overridden fear and loathing.
No one knows if these changes are permanent. Philosophers and academics have started to debate how the plant has changed us and what that means to the human experience and our future as a species. Contrary to the disaster movie plots, I know now that life before the Susurrus was the dystopia.
My roommate is calling me to dinner. We’ll eat and then enjoy our neighbor’s violin concert and relish the Spring evening.
The Sussurus was previously posted on Vocal.