Many years ago I visited the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi peoples in Mesa Verde National Park. When the park ranger explained that archaeologists have learned much about the ancient inhabitants from exploring the middens, which are the trash heaps of the families that were on a rock shelf just below their dwellings, I was taken aback. The proximity of the trash to their homes was striking, but then I remembered that I had read that middens were always found very near where people had lived. It was something of passing interest, but I promptly forgot about it after a little time.
A couple of years ago I was on the hunt for sea salt for the kitchen by going to the internet. I was surprised when in researching the tastes of different salts I came across some mention that the salt I was considering had small amounts of microplastics, bits of plastic that had broken up into microscopic pieces. Looking further, I read that salt from every ocean and sea in the world contained microplastic. Every sea salt I might buy contained plastic! Lately I have been digging a little deeper. Researchers have recently discovered that tiny bits of plastic are constantly falling from the sky in London. Seems that it is true for everywhere else, as well, even Antarctica. And I read that the plastic doesn’t decay, it seems that the tiny particles are forever.
Microplastics have recently been detected in the placentas of healthy pregnant women. One of the researchers wrote, “The potential presence of man-made plastics in this organ may harm the delicate response of differentiation between self and non-self.” It was hard to wrap my brain around that sentence, so I read it again. So a human being’s immune system may have become so compromised in embryo that it may not be able to identify and fend off foreign substances after birth.
If asked what remains after four thousand years from the civilization of Pharaonic Egypt, a person would likely remark on the great temples and pyramids, and the mysterious Sphinx. If, four thousand years from today, a future archeologist were to describe what remains of our times, the response will likely be very different than for the Egyptians. The plastics will still be found everywhere on the planet, along with so much else we have made and discarded, causing a future archeologist to come to the conclusion that our tribe, soon to number eight billion, used the entire earth as it’s midden, and the trash that has been deposited is going to remain for some unimaginable span of time.
I suppose a question for us might be what have we created during our time on earth that is of sufficient worth to counterbalance all the detritus we will leave. For myself, I can only pause and wonder, but I have come to no answer, only a quiet sadness. Finally, it is the words of the researcher that are haunting: “…may harm the delicate response of differentiation between self and non-self.” What else might those words come to mean, what else?
Comments are welcome​.


  1. Thank you, Justin

  2. Very sobering and lots to think about. As always, your stories contain food for contemplation and evaluation. Thank you, Dennis. Keep them coming.

    With an appreciative hug, Susan

  3. Sometimes too sobering, perhaps, but I am very very glad that they feed you, Susan. Thank you. Dennis

  4. Thank you for this beautiful reflection. We are called to live differently.

  5. Its a sad realization that all this happened quite quickly with the coming of the Industrial Revolution starting around the 1830’s maybe a little earlier. May seem like a long time ago but relatively speaking it didn’t take long for us to pollute, and contaminate – while we still find ourselves plundering Mother Earth to this day. Bucky Fuller coined the term Spaceship Earth. He also said Spaceship Earth didn’t come with a manual!

    We are flying blind most of the time, and only have hindsight after the fact. I don’t think we will become Stewards of the Earth until we learn to put down our weapons, erase our fictitious borders and realize we are all One on this Planet with the Starry Heavens above… to guide us. We can’t lose Faith even in our darkest hours… Bucky once stood along the shores of Lake Michigan contemplating taking his own life… so glad he had the insight and the fortitude to Stay the Course… There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, then are dreamt of in your philosophy…

  6. Thank you, Tom, what you say is very helpful, indeed. Dennis

  7. Patti, it is always a pleasure to hear from you, thank you once again. Dennis

  8. • On the other end of the salt continuum, the same studies showed that these salts contained the least amounts of microplastics:
    • Grey Celtic Sea Salt (Fine) (Coarse)
    • Redmond Real Salt (Fine) (Coarse)

  9. I think the point is not to become the midden of outdated ideas, gloom and depression in the moment. No, I think our point of life is to inspire others not to let themselves go into this “foregone thought” of our destiny but to inspire ourselves and others to greater heights. To connect with our divine spark and light a fire.

  10. Kaz, I love the counterpoint, and perfectly expressed. The necessity of finding a connection with the divine spark you speak of is paramount. Can I maintain that effort while nevertheless seeing the truths of our lives and our world, both good and bad? For myself, I need to try to hold both the beauty and the sadness of our world equally. Thank you for your contribution, it is appreciated very much.

  11. Tom,I didn’t know that, thank you for all. Dennis

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