Origins

Your life, your history, is the most precious thing you own, and it’s linked directly to the story of the cosmos. Like a fiber in a wonderful fabric, you help hold it together and color it.

All the things which are the story of your life are woven into it. You are spun together with the fibers of all time. It’s part of your story. Imagine being a single fiber in a great fabric and trying to find the beginning. The story is so great, that if we spend thousands of generations on just that question, we would only be a little closer to the answer. So, let’s narrow our search. Let’s begin with Florida, because it wasn’t always here. Once, long, long ago, it was part of Africa.

325 million years ago. Over there, across the water, that’s North America. We’re standing on Africa. Looking across this narrow strait, we still don’t see a lot of evidence of life. It’s still a fragile thing, scattered in dense pockets.
But, in the last 200 million years it has come amazingly far.
Below the waters glassy surface life is teaming.
Across that water, the plants which would create our modern world are forming huge swamps. This is the age of coal. Of course — behind us, here in Africa, the same thing is happening.

There are hot spots deep beneath the earth’s crust. One of those plumes of heat is located underneath modern Hawaii. This drawing shows a part of North Africa about a billion years ago. It was crawling over a hot spot. As it did, glowing fountains of lava splashed up, flowing across the landscape. This place will become part of Florida.

Along this shore, a billion years ago, if we stooped down, and looked carefully, we may have discovered a few thin, hair-like strands washed up by the tide. These fine strands represent a member of an already ancient lineage of algae.
Out there, below the crystalline tides, 10 feet down, plant cells had spun this wonderful yarn, this precious fiber of life. Solar radiation was too intense for life to exist in the first 10 feet. And so it began below. Huge mats of algae formed to help bring oxygen to our atmosphere.