Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being.
How old are you? (The answer is not what you think)
My 4 year old brother can tell you how old he is even though his concept of time is essentially nonexistent. He can’t wait to be “big”, which in his mind is 5 years old. However, the rest of us are not much better at answering the question about how old we are. Yes, we are correct about our legally recognized age, but we are way off on our natural age.
We’re all the same age… really old
Since everything is made up of matter, we all consist of atoms. These atoms all come together to make us who we are, but my brothers atoms are not 4 years old or even 4 billion years old. At some point shortly after the big bang, atoms came together thus forming the different elements (think periodic chart). Here we are 13.7 billion years later; all of us made of the same elements. This makes me shake my head when I think of nations going to war. We’re all made of the same elements, same matter. It doesn’t seem natural. With this argument, we are all really old at about 13.7 billion years old.
We’re all about the same age… really young
Humans consist of around 10 trillion human cells (excluding the 100 trillion microbial cells). These cells have a turnover rate that suggests each human consists of entirely different cells every 7 years. With this argument, we are all pretty young with no one older than 7 years old.
We’re all tenants… really big compared to our landlords
Almost everything we see or touch is completely covered with a thin layer of life, i.e. bacteria. They cover us. They cover our loved ones. They cover our…everything! Also, they have been around a lot longer than we have as species. We are just using the same space they are. Heck, we are a space they live! So, in this sense, they are allowing us to use this space as tenants. They are very nice landlords, too. Consider all the benefits we receive from their generosity (think microbiome).
We’re all rentals… really short-lived
Since we’re all made up of the same atoms and these atoms have essentially been around forever, they have been used by other matter before us. And, most certainly, they will be used by matter long after we as humans are gone. Mother Nature sees us as atomic renters, but definitely not rent-to-own.
I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little further down our particular path than we have yet gone ourselves.
Neutral Milk Hotel. “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”—
Be careful when you cast out your demons that you don’t throw away the best of yourself.
Rae Spoon / “I’ll Be a Ghost For You”—