The Universe Compels Me: Do Not Do Dishes!

Even though you might not notice it, everything around us is the result of a long process of development. The computer you are reading this on owes its creation to centuries of incremental innovation, going all the way back to the abacus.

You yourself represent a genetic lineage that goes back to the very first life on Earth. Over time what was once a membrane with some gunk inside changed, developed, and splintered into every single living organism alive today. With the right conditions and incredible patience, amazing things can arise from the most mundane sources.

I am from southwest Colorado, where the desert meets the mountains. Around here, there is a substance called cryptobiotic soil. Basically, it is dirt with a living crust on top. Sort of like a coral reef on land.


It poses quite the navigation hazard.

Cryptobiotic soil appears when a patch of soils is left undisturbed for a long time. Small bits can occur quickly, but the large colonies take years or even decades to form.

And it can be completely undone by a big storm or a single inconsiderate footfall.

Cryptobiotic soil is akin to the forests of stalactites and stalagmites that grow in caves where things are nice and calm. It is like all other life that can develop on a planet that has the right conditions, and doesn’t get blasted by radiation or smashed by an asteroid. And cryptobiotic soil is like that universe itself, which is nothing more than the long-term crystallization of indeterminate base ingredients.


Energy, subatomic particles, or Ymir’s flesh. Who knows what the Universe is made of?

Everything around us is the result of a long process. Or, in terms that will make the new age folks happy, we are all just crystals. But, in all honesty, anything with any amount of complexity is just the crust that formed on top of its environment. You never know what could happen when you leave things along for a long time.

I suspect this was part of the cosmic plan all along. And it is the very best thing to say the next time you get in trouble for not doing the dishes.

“You never know what might come of the crust.”

Dirty Dishes

“You don’t understand, man. I’m trying to build something here.”