A disturbance over the Rockies a few days ago resulted in a storm developing over us in the next few hours.
A 23 pound striped bass just ate some sand eels a few hours ago--she's hungry, and she knows she's about to make a long journey south. She knows nothing of North Carolina, but she will spend the winter off its coast.
In another universe, the weather would be grand tomorrow, and the 1st Annual Doyle Striped Ass Bass Bash would go on as scheduled, and the she-bass above would be caught, clubbed, bled, then eaten with much joy and beer.
But she will live.
And because she lives, a few thousand more sand eels will die while wriggling in her belly.
That's how it works. Really.
Yesterday I mentioned Hansel and Gretel in class--a lot of my lambs did not know the story.
Today I mentioned Tithonus--he was granted immortality, but forgot to ask for youth. I was messing around with the class, talking about some technological "advancement" that was likely to occur after I die. I welcome death. Not today, but someday.
Hey, it's biology class.
I have to be careful--I do not want to frighten children. I do not want them to cower in a corner. Still, this is biology. Organisms live. Organisms die. We have plenty of people selling immortality. I'd be remiss if I failed to mention death in a class studying life.
We are afraid of what we know to be true.
Getting older is weird--I am shocked every time I look in a mirror.
As strange as it is, though, the biology is fascinating. Death is fascinating. It's scary when you focus on the "you" in you, less so when you focus on life in general. Still scary, though.
I am charged by the state of New Jersey to teach biology, the study of life. Our culture assumes immortality.
Religion has no place in the science classroom, but I think death does, at least in biology class. Death cannot be approached without religion in its most basic sense.
What to do, what to do? Do what's in the best interests of the children.
So I teach death.
So a sand eel survives. On Sunday, a day it does not recognize as the Sabbath, it will eat plankton. Or rather, it will eat thousands of tiny, individual organisms lumped as "plankton" because we, humans, see tiny organisms in the sea as insignificant.
Each organism matters, or it does not. Life matters, or it does not. Pure logic.
That we, humans, choose to lump individual organisms in a category such as "plankton" or "algae" or "animal" to reduce groups to something less than us may be one of the characteristics that defines what we are.
I have no idea why we are here or why, but I spend most of my moments in bliss, happy to be alive.
Two days ago, as I was walking to school, I was steaming about some hypothetical situation, and a crow flew overhead.
It cawed. In joy. (My evidence? Little, I know, but I recognize joy--if you cannot recognize joy, you'd have stop reading my words long ago.)
A mid-October morning, about 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and I get a needed kick in the ass from a crow.
You are not special. You will die, too.