Monday, October 08, 2007
My grandson Simon is six-years-old. He recently lost a loose front tooth, and if you look carefully, you can see the new tooth emerging to take the lost tooth's place. The body has a remarkable ability to defend and repair itself, it even has a magical ability to renew, in that, at a cellular lever, we are constantly dying and being reborn. Heraclitus is supposed to have said that one can never step into the same river twice, and this is because the water is constantly being restored by new water rushing in. And this is true of the body. Deepak Chopra tells us that 98% of atoms in our body at the moment were not there a year ago. "The skeleton that seems so solid was not there three months ago," he writes. "The skin is new every month. You have a new stomach lining every four days....It is as if you lived in a building whose bricks were systematically taken out and replaced. If you keep the same blueprint, then it will look like the same building. But it won't be the same...." Eventually, entropy takes over.
Physicists use the phrase "The Arrow of Time" to explain the fact that events in time can only move forward, and can't be reversed. When a glass shatters on the floor, says Stephen Hawking, it can't pick up its pieces and rebuild itself into a whole glass. There are some things that cannot be fixed. "Not for all our piety, nor wit, nor tears." All in all, I think simply being alive is a miraculous achievement. When I woke this morning, I thought of the tremendous change in my life once the powerful catalytic agent CANCER was introduced. I've come to feel a certain indifference to the few dark horrors that my mind occasionally offers up. Things go on. No one on earth can give me a signed and notarized certificate saying that I still haven't got this damned disease. But I can adapt. Every change requires some re-ordering to accommodate it. And I find a certain tenacious peace-of-mind in prayer--not as a greedy child whining to an indulgent parent, nor as a beggar, but as a sort of opening up of cosmic pathways into my mind.
A note I discover among some old papers: Adversity helps men to rise above themselves. Is that true? I think so.
Doctor Lewis Thomas writes in The Lives of a Cell: Statistically, the probability of any one of us being here is so small that you'd think the mere fact of existence would keep us all in a contented dazzlement of surprise. We are alive against the stupendous odds of genetics, infinitely out-numbered by all the alternates who might, except for luck, be in our places...Each of us is a self-contained, free-standing individual, labeled by specific protein configurations at the surface of cells, identifiable by whorls of fingertip skin, maybe even by special medleys of fragrance. You'd think we'd never stop dancing.
(Most of this was written years ago, taken out of my book CHRYSALIS. And I am still here to tell the tale. The book ends like this: So, this is a portrait of a birth. The butterfly is finally emerging. The book is finished, and I am painfully anxious that it be good. I stayed up until two or three in the morning for weeks trying to finish the final draft. Now I need to move on to something else. Maybe I'll just think in iambic pentameter for awhile. Maybe I'll write another book, a children's book this time.
I am full. Let me stay like this forever, lullabied by family, by friends, by an unrolling of irrevocable love and intoxicant life. I hold it as carefully as mortal fingers will allow. Thanks. Everything is as it should be, and nothing will change, not ever, I tell myself. Encircled by sleepy children, Mark sings:
And hand in hand on the edge of the sand
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.