• Our Life On Earth

    by Lauren Dykman

    There is nothing but a heartbeat. And swaying. The fluid movement of the ocean. My body licked by sunlight and caressed by kelp. I lie quiescent, face-down, arms outstretched, watching dancing fish cast shadows on sturdy rocks. A leopard shark, like a patch of sun, rock, plant, and shadow, glides beneath me. Such encounters with nature give me my most cherished gift: the ability to view the world through the eyes of a scientist. Now, when I snorkel above a leopard shark, I see everything connected to everything else, a flow of energy, a link between humanity and the global ecology. I see the history of life flash before my eyes…
    In the beginning, there was light. Sunlight poured upon the steaming sea. Frothy waves met the groaning volcanoes of the continent, and in turmoil elements linked, grew, and stacked energy upon energy. Molecules joined, cells split, tiny feelers bumped and nudged their tactile world, mindless and blind yet driven by deeply ingrained purpose. The elements of the earth rose, joined onto organisms that grew outward, channeled the sun’s energy into consciousness. And the day dawned when eyes opened and beheld their new world.
    Never did the elements question why they rose from ashes and came to life. Life is the way it is. The shark beneath me never questions why it snaps at darting fish, lusting to feed on flesh. Creatures live and die by legions for biological progression, fighting tooth and claw, blood for blood, always to the death. Corpses pile atop corpses creating the womb in which the living set their roots. The ceaseless battle endures on Earth for billions of years, proving that life always has been and always will be worth fighting for. By dying, the fish nourishes the shark and locks energy in the system. The shark advances life by growing strong to reproduce. Without thinking, without questioning, they battle to sustain their organic system.
    Life is a cycle dependent on elegant balance. Once in the ecosystem, substances remain. The water in which I float cycled through the sky, the soil, the veins of dinosaurs. The earth makes bodies, and bodies make the earth. For me, realizing mankind’s equality with all creatures was not a shattering, but an awakening into an interconnected web of shared energy. Now, as I watch the leopard shark bask, I recognize my responsibility to the planet.
    My experiences with nature changed my life because they allowed me to view mankind in the context of natural history. Humanity does not exist outside the ecosystem; it is part of it. Therefore, I hope every person will inherit his or her time on Earth with integrity and participate responsibly in Earth’s global ecology. For although individuals are but tiny travelers, isolated to their time and place, they are nevertheless connected to everything else in the web of life. Just as we are composed of pieces of all who came before, our actions will affect all who come after.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on April 27, 2012

    Topics: Young Writers' Corner

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