Makes me wonder about other invisible forces and influences working their magic on us. Gravity seems the most obvious example...what can I say about gravity except it keeps us grounded. Time...we measure time, waste it, lose it, pass, make, run out of and make the most of time, all in a vain attempt to control it...and what do we get from time? Not enough of it that's for sure. Randomness, is it a force? It certainly is an influence and sure as hell feels like a force when it kicks your door in and sends you spinning off to OZ. Evolution is a force...it's made us what we are...ask if we are products of nature or nurture and the answer is evolution. One beef with evolution though, wish we hadn't given up on the prehensile tail. Oh and one other, short lifespan.
Speaking of lifespan how does 400 years sound to you? Well, Ming the Clam got 405 years. Floating around the Gulf Stream, sucking up plankton, making little Mings, four centuries of bucolic if uneventful clam bliss. Ming does have an interesting story...for a clam. Seems the poor old bugger got caught up by a random act of dredging inflicted by scientists from Bangor University. When Ming was pulled from the pile of victims they knew it was no ordinary clam. This clam was old, 405 years packed onto one clam. The oldest living creature yet found. Too bad they killed it. "Did not survive the assessment" is how the researches put it. Reminds me of a line from Wordsworth, "We murder to dissect." Ming is dead and it makes me sad. 400 years, serenely bottom feeding, spreading sperm and eggs by the millions, tucked deep into the Atlantic mud...then wham! Smacked by the invisible hand of randomness...with all the weight of it's shining, serrated, steel bladed teeth and tungsten carbon netting...never had chance, frozen in the headlights, dead in the specimen jar.
Why shed a tear or even care about a clam? Well Ming was uniquely old and that kind of unique deserves some respect. Maybe it's the sheer dumb brute randomness of death by dredge. But then what with lightening strikes, speeding bullets and tornadoes hurling people through corn fields, death just is brutish and random. What really gnaws at my nerves is the viral nature of the slaughter; indiscriminately, randomly, laying waste to the landscape...the ease with which we access our inner virus. But there is an important difference between us and the virus. After all viruses are just dumb viral beasts, we are conscious...which means we can pull the plug on the maelstrom if we choose. Though I wonder if deep in our core, down in the muck of our genes we are just too viral, too in the thrall of invisible forces....
In the face of unseen forces and virus infested DNA what are we to do? Well, I don't eat clams anymore. It's not much but it's what I can muster for now. I also take Ming's story as a cautionary tale...no matter how deep you burrow into the mud you need to keep your head up, eyes wide open and beware the random dredge.
That's all I have for now