Is there any sadder idea than extinction? Dinosaurs have been gone for 75 million years and I never get sentimental about them, but I think constantly of the mammoths. The last mammoth on earth died on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean around 1700 BC. That's an eyeblink ago, well within the span of written human history. I know poems that old.
I keep a round slice of mammoth tusk in my dining room. It isn't even old enough to be fossilized, it's a piece of natural ivory. It is creamy white, polished, with light brown streaks. Sometimes I pick it up and hold it, and all I can think to say is, "You almost made it. You almost made it."
Behaviorists also use the term "extinction." Behaviors can be erased. They can, for a variety of reasons, become less persistent. This can happen quickly or slowly. A behavior can be nibbled away, or it can vanish overnight. It is extinct. It has been extinguished.
I have several behaviors that deserve to be extinguished, maybe a dozen or more. I can't seem to do it globally, wholesale, all at once. There does not seem to be an internal commandment that I can issue to myself that is strong enough. So I'm breaking down the problem into its component parts.
This is embarrassing, as usual, but that's the whole point of doing it in public like this, isn't it?
Yesterday I marked three behaviors for extinction. Number one is eating peanuts and peanut butter.
And at the exact moment I write these words, an email comes through. In honour of Kevin’s birthday, there are peanut butter cookies with M&Ms by the printers. Cake will be later. There you go. Invent a new sin and a new Satan appears.
More about peanuts, stay tuned.
Photo: A brachylophosaurus nicknamed "Peanut" at the Judith River Dinosaur Institute dig in Montana.