Tuesday, April 24, 2007
What is life? It's nothing, I repeat...nothing...but a series of chemical actions and reactions, some kind of low-level electricity, some physics thrown in, and off we go...living until we stop. Some of us leave a mark afterwards, but most of us do not. Most of us are no more important than a ladybug or a minnow. The most interesting thing about life, to me, is how most forms of life cling so tenaciously to that life. Observe a plant that manages to grow in a tiny crack in a rock, or between a sidewalk and a brick wall. It manages to insert a tiny tendril of root deep enough into the crack to obtain a bit of moisture and nutrient, just enough to live in spite of the odds. I have watched insects fight valiantly to keep their footing and try desperately to crawl out of the sink or tub as I attempt to wash them down the drain. I usually give up before they do, and pick them up and take them outside and release them in the flowerbed. A tiny mouse flees the hungry cat. The injured lion licks its wounds. At every step up the evolutionary scale animals do whatever they can to hold on...until we get to man. Only some humans seem capable of voluntarily ending their own lives. From depressed teenagers to suicide bombers, some of us lose that intrinsic "will to live" and develop a "will to die." They find a way to shut down the chemistry, the electricity, the physics of life. By doing so, they may leave a bigger mark than they would have if they had shut down naturally. But it is an ugly, black mark.