Monday, November 18, 2013

L.I.N.K.S. that Lure, Intrigue, Nurture, Kindle, or Stimulate #6: Life Force

L.I.N.K.S. that Lure, Intrigue, Nurture, Kindle, or Stimulate, Part 6, in which we contemplate


1. We are (recycled) stardust. The atoms in our bodies are composed of elements like carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen which were created in exploding stars. The atoms in your left hand may have come from a different star than the atoms in your right hand.

2. The science around evolution and the origin of species is all but settled. The essential enduring mystery in the science of life's origins centers around questions like these: Where did the first material come from? And what force lit the very first spark? Recent discoveries about RNA offer clues about the (spontaneous?) origins of Life.

3. Our bodies are only 10% human. The human body consists of roughly 100 trillion cells, of which only 10 trillion contain human DNA. The rest are mostly bacteria in the gut and on the skin. The micro-biome of our bodies contains hundreds of bacteria species. The colony that thrives on your tongue seems foreign to the colony that thrives a "continent" away on the roof of your mouth. We are not only recycled stardust carrying the physical and spiritual evidence of life's first spark, but, to literally trillions of single-celled animals, we are the embodiment of a mysterious and symbiotic Universe.

4. We sentient beings know that there is but one way out of this game called life. We struggle to survive for a variety of reasons--your reasons may be different from mine. The animal kingdom is ruled by survival instincts, and all creatures instinctively fight, or flee to fight another day, while hopefully existing long enough to pass genes to the next generation. In nature, there comes a moment when a mighty moose accepts its role--as food for the pack of hungry wolves. Life is not about winners and losers but about balance and acceptance, and finding and fulfilling your purpose as best as you are able.

5. Animals with big brains are not the only living things filled with life force. Survival instincts occur in plants, too. When temperatures drop and the ground begins to freeze, the carrot pulls its sugars to center. Some cooks prize these cold-tempered carrots for their delicious sweetness--even deliberately subjecting carrots to freezing temperatures right before harvesting them. Did you realize that when you bite into the resulting sweetness, you are tasting that carrot's attempt to survive?

Collections of Stardust. The Spark of Life. Symbiotic relationships. Balance and acceptance. The will to survive. My motive for tying all of these seemingly disparate LIFE FORCE links together? In a word, cancer. Do you have cancer, or do you know someone close to you who has cancer? Odds are, everyone reading this post knows someone who has some firsthand experience with this horrid disease.

Walk with me:
  • Cancer patients are composed of stardust--just as are their tumors. Cancer is harmful but it is not unnatural. It is part of life.
  • Cancer patients are filled with a mysterious life force--so too are wolves, carrots, and tumors. We do not know where the tumors come from, or how to prevent them taking up residence in people we love. But we do know why tumors persist, and what happens if they are not defeated.
  • Like all of us, cancer patients host many non-human creatures--a soup can's worth of bacteria, mostly in our digestive tract. Unlike the mutually beneficial arrangement we have with most of our parasites, tumors are unwelcome invaders.
  • The life force compels us (and our parasites--beneficial, or otherwise) to accept uncertainty. In a world of predators and prey, of the survival of the fittest, of the ultimate stakes, there are some pitched battles. A pack of cunning wolves can forcibly bring a mighty moose to the moment when that moose stops struggling and accepts its fate. Similarly, the cancer patient, his medical team, his family and friends, and a global network of Prayer Warriors fighting back as a team can force a tumor to succumb.
  • Like sweet, cold-harvested carrots, tumors try to survive by adapting to their environment. Some tumors are especially good at adapting. This is to be expected and even respected. What to do? Find a way to win. If necessary, make a way to win. 
The LIFE FORCE is mysterious. We are made to struggle. We have no choice but to fight. The way we humans look at the world may not be the only way. What makes one particular collection of space debris more important than another? What does God look like to the bacteria in your gut? Go. Fight. Win. What else is there?

Here are links to previous entries in the L.I.N.K.S. series. Enjoy them and feel free to suggest a theme for the next edition, L.I.N.K.S. 7. Comments always welcome!

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