February 27, 2024 | Rome, Italy

A mammoth’s reflections

By |2024-02-01T02:57:44+01:00January 25th, 2024|Home|
A mammoth is a creature full of regrets.

here are perhaps only one or two significant paleontological discoveries in a generation. Finding the diary of a woolly mammoth written right at that critical period when the species was nearing extinction, however, eclipses every breaking discovery in the field for at least three generations. The 700m+ diary that stretched across the caves of North America is particularly heart-rending to read now, when our world is coming to terms with its own mortality. Climate change spells doom for us all. This incredible relic completely reshapes what we previously knew about mammoths while still leaving some questions unanswered, like, “Did mammoths write with their tusks or did they hold a stile with their proboscis?” We may never know.

Read on to see what the introspective creature had to say.

“For a very long time, I went to bed rather early. I found the natural dimming of the light particularly conducive to falling asleep. I have no way to confirm this, but I suspect the blue light ice emits to be harmful to my brain’s natural sleep cycle. But it’s with a heavy heart that I’ve realized there is less blue light these days because, alas, the ice is melting.

The ice melts down the walls and over my words even as I write them, but I feel a desperate compulsion to say it all anyway.

I’m afraid that the world I knew is coming to an end. And so I’ve been going to bed later. As my days dwindle, I’m looking for any way to extend my existence. Perhaps that is not way a God (if one exists) would like me comport myself. But I am, after all, just a woolly mammoth guided by natural impulses that tell me, ‘Live, live, live’ with every beat of my heart.

I’ve been thinking back on my life and the choices I made. No one will be able to see these ruminations of mine. The ice melts down the walls and over my words even as I write them, but I feel a desperate compulsion to say it all anyway. To look back at the regrets I have, for isn’t that what living beings always reflect on when faced with the dying embers of their existence?

Do I have regrets? Absolutely. There is no way to live and not encounter regrets, whether from a live not lived enough or one lived too thoroughly. No, I am reconciled to the idea that one cannot reach the end without repenting something. Most of mine come from fear — things I wish I’d done but didn’t because I was a coward.

The love I lost because I was afraid of letting her know I liked her. The way I waited to tell my relatives I loved them because I was embarrassed by the sentiment. The way I always followed the rules because I thought that would make me stand out, when in reality, it just helped me hide better.

I have others. I regret not joining the mass migration with the other mammoths because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to go the distance. Ah me! Wasn’t I foolish? For in not going, I am still haunted by that doubt. Would I have been able to keep up the pace? Or would I fall behind, and die lonely and hungry, while my tribe plodded on to greener lands? My elders used to tell me it’s better to have tried and failed than to not have tried at all. Only now do I understand what they meant. I must accept that when life gave me a chance to live, I shied away, afraid that I might.

Life gifted you with existence, but no more — you must ask and seek out the rest.

I also regret never demanding more from life because I assumed life would give me everything it had to give. You must ask, dear friends. You must ask. This is the most important lesson life has taught me. Few creatures see your needs without you making them known. But do not equate mammoths not giving you what you need with them not caring. Do not be afraid that you will be too much, or that you will be an imposition. Give them, give life, a chance to give, and be ready to receive. Life gifted you with existence, but no more — you must ask and seek out the rest.

You will still end life with regrets, but perhaps, if you do the things I did not do, yours will be better companions to spend your final hours with.

I am getting tired. A life of early evenings does not slip away easily. And so, as my lids grow heavy, I’ll end tonight’s reflections here, and hope I wake up tomorrow. For if I do, I shall take my own advice. By God, I swear it.”

The woolly mammoth never added more to his diary. We have no way of knowing whether he started a solitary migration in accordance with his desires, or whether he never woke up again. But we sincerely hope the former.

About the Author:

Manhattan-based Eleonora was born in Milan. She studied at schools in Italy, England, and the U.S. before earning her degree at Brown. When Eleonora is not acting, writing, or watching comedy, she spends her time drinking tea, worrying too much about everything, and spouting spoonerisms.