Don’t Pity the Cobblestones

Don’t pity the basalt block that resides underfoot in the cobblestone road. Horses and carts; buses and motorcycles have traversed these stones for centuries. And what are we, after all, without purpose?

Pity instead the slab of marble. It was once a part of a living organism, residing on the bottom of the ocean. It died and was taken up by another organism, and yet another, before it was compressed in a tiramisu of dead sea creatures.

For millions of years it waited to be lifted up above the level of the ocean, and eventually that’s what happened. By then it was merely a slab of limestone, awaiting the running water from the rain to wash it back into the sea where it could be taken up again by a living organism. Or perhaps it could be taken up on the way by the roots of a plant to provide nourishment.

Instead, time passed and the limestone was pressed and squashed and baked and it metamorphosed into a slab of marble. Its veins were reminiscent of the living creatures it once constituted. Its density and colour were something to be desired.

Desired so much was the marble, that a buying manager for the store renewal department of a national fast food chain put in an order. Seventeen round marble tables for store number 0514.

The marble was dug up, cut and polished. It was selected for its veins, its density and its lustre. Its low porosity was a must. It was shipped to a factory in America and mated to legs forged in China. It passed its quality check – which was not the case for many of its brethren – and it was plastic wrapped, bound for a fast-food store in Texas.

For a moment, it was beautiful. A shining piece of art upon which to place the greasy and sugary snacks of the human organisms that ate at the fast-food shop. The marble was once again part of a living, breathing ecosystem.

…until the flat-nosed girl with the asymmetrical hairdo lost her temper.

“I didn’t order a chocolate milkshake! I ordered a coffee flavoured milkshake!” She shouts. She hollers. She pushes the heavy, marble table around. She bashes it into another marble table. One of the tables must give way to dissipate the expense of energy. The flat-nosed girl laughs. She smashed a solid stone table. She obviously has superpowers or something. That’s what she concludes with her basic level of reasoning. She chugs her milkshake, regardless of its flavour and storms off with her equally unsophisticated friends.

The noble slab of marble is smashed in pieces, its usefulness having come to pass. It was the conglomeration of the products of past life. It spent a million years in the making and it’ll spend another million in landfill on the scorched Texas plains.

So, next time you walk on a cobblestone road, don’t pity the basalt underfoot. Pity the marble table at the street café just beside the cobbled street. It has waited a million years to be a part of life again, and it will wait only a few more before it is relegated to the waste heap to make room for a new plastic table.



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