Silverberg: All Sadnesses Flow to the Sea

The planet cleanses itself. That is the important thing to remember, at moments when we become too pleased with ourselves. The healing process is a natural and inevitable one. The action of the wind and the rain, the ebbing and flowing of the tides, the vigorous rivers flushing out the choked and stinking lakes—these are all natural rhythms, all healthy manifestations of universal harmony. Of course, we are here too. …

This is the opening of a short story by Robert Silverberg, “The Wind and the Rain,” first published in 1973.

As Silverberg notes, in his introduction to this story in his COLLECTED STORIES VOLUME 3, the alarm about ecological damage to the planet — which goes back centuries, perhaps — is sometimes misplaced. It’s not about damage to the planet. Indeed, the planet has undergone wild swings of climate change in the past. There have been huge extinction events. The planet recovers. But not most of the species who have ever lived. The damage humans are inflicting — again, that Sixth Extinction — won’t kill the planet, but it might well kill the human race.

The story ends: “The wind. The rain. The tides. All sadnesses flow to the sea.”

I reread a bunch of Silverberg collections, beginning with the earliest, right about a year ago, up through those early ’70s collections, and took many notes. This past week I’ve resumed that attention, rereading a few I read last year but didn’t take notes on, and plan to post a kind of reading log. Let’s see how that goes.

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