I have been drawn to a couple ideas lately, ideas that I feel as if they are pieces of a larger picture. Both feel very connected yet I have been unable to put it all together in my mind so I can write it down intelligibly for you. On one hand I feel like I could weave them into one common thread but both also probably deserve time dedicated to each idea individually. “Enough of this vague dance around the bush” you say, well hold on a second and I’ll see if I can work this out for you. Most of the articles I’ve written have been focused on emotional regulation and being mentally aware so we can eliminate the issues we cause ourselves. I have become someone who doesn’t think that an emotional reflex is any excuse to waste away our precious time. I don’t want to spend my life saying I’m sorry repeatedly for the same mistakes; I want to try and prevent those self-inflicted mistakes beforehand. Though with that being said I can only talk about the same topic so many times before I have to branch out a little. That’s also the best part about picking a webpage titled “It’s all the same thing”, I can write whatever I want because it really is all the same thing. I’ll show you how, though I don’t yet know how I will do that at the moment. But as the old saying goes, “Writers write” and when you can’t get started the best thing to do is to just get started. One idea I have involves the difference between water and ice and the other involves a plants struggle for survival. Here we go…
When you begin paying attention to all the different forms of life that is around you, you start to notice how similar everything is. Surrounding yourself with diversity of life can make you feel less alone in a lot of ways, even if there are no other humans present. It makes you feel less different when you can look at it from the right angle. I mean this in the very basic of terms, let’s not overthink it and miss the point. A dandelion in the grass is as different from the dog lying in the sun next to it as the bee on the flower is from you. But that which makes the dandelion do its dandelion business is not all that far apart from the rest of us and the daily paths we take. I’m talking about survival, which is a term we have become a little disconnected with. For the lucky humans born in good parts of the world, living has become less about actually having a life and more so about what kind of life do we want. We don’t starve on a regular basis or walk miles for fresh water, we complain about a lack of air conditioning and slow checkout lines at the grocery store. Even though we don’t look at our lives in the same terms of survival as most of the living organisms on earth, all the while we are still playing that game. The choices we make and the areas we focus our time and energy on will determine exactly how that game of ours gets played out.
Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, we all work to survive. Survival is living. Survival is wanting to live. Even those who have taken their own life had lived most of their time thinking the complete opposite of how they were in that moment. Nothing wants to not be around anymore. I say ‘nothing’ as if I mean a rock has a fear of death or something, but what I actually mean and by using a figure of speech is that everything wants to live as long as possible. This is why men dressed as ladies on the Titanic as it was sinking to get on a lifeboat. Nobody knows what lies on the other side of death and that fear of the unknown keeps us looking out for number one. The big flaw with all this though is that we physically don’t go on forever. People die, plants shrivel up and decompose in the winter; everything has an expiration date. This is what makes religion so appealing to so many; the idea of being forever. The notion of being created and now always existing (as some form or another) is comforting because, as humans, we have a hard time imagining what it would be like to not exist at all. But with those religious folks out there having their afterlife as a destination for the next version of themselves, what do those that don’t “believe”, believe? I think most people would find the comfort of eternal existence through their children which carry on part of them after they die. Obviously so because exactly half of them is ‘you’, and the more kids you have, the more of ‘you’ there is to spread more of ‘you’ around. Maybe this is why famous bloodlines are always kind of interesting. A physical link to Christopher Columbus or Genghis Kahn or Cleopatra, even if it has been divided into such a small percentage. Lastly, there are those who just find comfort knowing that even without having children to pass their specific genes to, they are made of molecules and atoms and those particles have been and always will be. They are made of the stuff created in a star, traveled millions of light years after it exploded in a violent death and after a series of fortunate events, came together with other molecules and atoms to form a cell and multiply.
This thought about us being a big collection of tiny little dots (subatomic particles) all held together is hard for some people to imagine. This also goes back to my talking about the similarities between the dandelion and the lazy dog and the slightly less lazy you. “They all three look so different, and we can think and feel, and the flower doesn’t speak English”, and the list goes on and on so how could we be made up of the same things? Well, it’s just because we are in different states of being. Think about an ice cube in a glass of water. They are both made up of the same things, the same ratio of hydrogen to oxygen. But when you drop the ice cube in the water it doesn’t instantly disappear and mix in with the other water molecules the way pouring in water from a pitcher does. The molecules of the ice repel against the liquid water the same as the water repels the glass it’s in. They mix together about as well as if you would try and put the dandelion inside the dog (and not by eating it), or your hand through the earth. All living things contain the same basic building blocks; carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen. And since we know that matter cannot be created or destroyed, this means that what we are made up of now has been a part of a many different configurations of elements over the long term.
This logic would tell us that throughout time we have been a star, an ocean, a flower and now a human. Just one more similarity between you and all the non-human living things you ignore every day, you were once one of them (and will be again). Only when we are in the more complex configurations of matter though do we have the tendencies to want to carry ourselves on in that state for as long as we can. Plants have flowers for this purpose, dogs have puppies and we have church and an afterlife. These basic similarities between us are obvious. What is more important though is that when we see the way we work on these very basic levels of surviving in our current state and if we are conscious of it, then we can more easily predict and work towards a longer survivability. Think about it like this; a plant opens its flower to get a bee to fly in, do the twist and then go do it to another flower. Does the plant know this is why it’s blooming? Did it think it out and strategize for this moment? More than likely, if it was self-aware, it would just have some urge, some impulse that it couldn’t explain but some need to stand tall and spread eagle to the world. Plants cannot really process complex thoughts like this (to our knowledge) like we can, but what about our inner impulses? When you get thirsty, your brain tells your body that you are hungry so it can attain some fluids by any means necessary. We crave salty and sweet foods and once consumed, our brain releases comforting chemicals to make us feel good because those are calorie rich foods and it wants us to continue eating them. In other words, you get more energy for less work and your brain rewards this. Why did you think you love French fries and chocolate?
We all have this programming inside of us and that influences all of our decisions. The trees and the birds and you and your neighbor, even the fungi growing in the soil all have the same drives and desires to live and be continuous and successful in this state for as long they can. The biggest difference between humans and the rest of the living organisms is that we have this big brain in our heads that gets in the way of those basic needs. The dandelion never gets jealous and holds a grudge for not being invited to drinks after work with the fella’s. My dog never gets so nervous that he runs from an opportunity of a lifetime when it sends him out of his comfort zone ( I don’t think he even knows what uncomfortable means, I’ve seen him sleep soundly lying right on top of a hard bone he was chewing on minutes before). We have this whole system of life around us showing us that in order to make it long term, we need to make the right decisions; we need to adapt and change and overcome obstacles. When an animal loses a leg after being hit by a car, it doesn’t feel sorry for itself but barely notices the thing is missing. It can’t sit around all mopey over the loss because it has surviving to do. The size of our brains and our capability to process complex thinking is what led to space travel and television and industry, but it also works against us when we need to think on more basic terms. Apple orchards need to be continuously hacked at to remove the old growth so new limbs will branch out and bear the best fruit. Most people never take the time to understand why they continuously make bad decisions through life that leave them with limited opportunities, they never get rid of their bad habits (old growth) so that they can succeed at being happy and healthy (bear fruit). I hear a lot of people ask “why does this always happen to me?” and a lot of times you can trace the event back to decisions they made that led them there. The environment you put yourself in and the people you have around you through life will help you grow positively or negatively, just as a plant struggles in bad soil and no light but flourishes in fresh compost within a green house. We are an interesting species in that our main drive is to live and survive but we let ego and pride and other self-generated feelings often override that essential need. When you start to look around and really pay attention, you will notice that all the answers to life’s problems are growing right under your feet (and wagging its tail when you get home from work).