Where was I? Why me specifically? You can ask anyone over the age of 20, and they’ll tell you where they were the day Yellowstone opened the gates of Hell. But, since you asked politely and seem too young to remember yourself, I’ll tell you.
I was sitting in the pub in Liverpool with my boys, enjoying a football match and drinking beer. They interrupted the game to give us an update. Some of us believed the Americans had it coming- what with the economic decline, their failed wars, their people tearing each other apart as the rest of the world loathed them. Yet others believed the eruption was divine punishment, a plague sent against humanity for the wrongdoings of man. There were others still who pitied those across the ocean. Sending relief when the ash clouds finally dissipated, taking census data to find out how many people actually survived and helping the once great Nation back to its feet.
As for me, well, Although some people want to watch the world burn, I just accept the inevitable and sit back with whiskey and popcorn to watch the fireworks. Just like I did when Sheila took the kids and left me. Just like I did when my fucking asshole boss laid me off. Inevitable.
Yellowstone, though. That wasn’t an act of man, it wasn’t an act of terrorists- it was simply our planet saying “Enough!” We weren’t worried about global warming anymore as our skies filled with ash and set us into a bloody winter that lasted much longer than it should have. We no longer talked about plastic in the oceans when it was poisoned by sulfur. We weren’t concerned about our petty wars when food became scarce and any surplus that we had disappeared across the ocean to the ‘relief effort’. No. Our planet, our species, got put in its place and reset to survival mode. The initial blast probably killed almost a hundred thousand people. In the weeks that followed, the death tolls only rose as we watched America try to pick up the pieces without tearing themselves apart. Bloody shame, the loss of life.
I had an opportunity awhile back to visit the Gates of Hell. The caldera itself reaching a diameter of almost 90 kilometers. 90. That’s the distance from London to Oxford! The circumference was nearly 320 kilometers. With a group of spiritualists, scientists, and other curious folk, we set out for our forty day retreat into the wilderness. We camped on the volcanic ash that blanketed the US. The caldera itself still spit and sputtered magma from the bowels of the Earth, but the surrounding areas looked nothing like the devastating footage that flooded the media. Barren fields of ash, people trapped under so many layers that they could not burrow out. People trapped in collapsing buildings. The earthquakes causing massive damage across the midwest. It looked like half of the country disappeared overnight, and the rest was greeted with untimely shoveling and plowing of volcanic ash in a noble attempt at digging everyone out.
It was as if the land was barren, never to recover.
Now that I have stood on the precipice of the caldera itself, I can tell you, the world moves on. The area is now growing back what it lost. The trees, the animals, the ability to produce food. All of it- restoring. I spent forty days exploring, studying, and analyzing the areas most impacted by the Supervolcano. I should have come out of it with some profound learning, some idea of what awaits us in life, and probably some inspiring tale of death and rebirth. But all I can say about walking around that newborn ecosystem is: ‘Even Mother Nature couldn’t kill us off. How much longer will be able to endure? What can we do differently in the time we’ve been given?’
Of course, as soon as I got back on a plane to go home, I woke up to my senses. There’s not a bloody thing we can do about it. Not during World War II, not during Yellowstone, not if an asteroid decided to swing our way. So I refuse to spend my whole life in fear. Live how you want, allow others to do the same. Which means I require another Whiskey. But thanks for asking.