Life Is Precious, Life Is Cheap

Life is precious. From humans to microbes, each organism arranges itself to energize itself, repair itself, avoid danger, resist death. A tomato plant defies death by its very persistence in living and by living beyond itself through its seeds. Life must be precious, for living is what organisms do at almost any price. Love is real, even with its roots in biology. A cancer survivor I know travels to the ocean once a year to celebrate her life. We search other planets for signs of it.

Life is cheap. The number of all organisms on this planet, from humans to microbes, is beyond counting. Life must be cheap, for living is what all these organisms do. Every body is vulnerable, dependent on the right heat, light, and water, built from ordinary materials, prone to breakage. Big fish eat little fish, and humans eat big fish. Fear, depression, hunger, illness, disability, poverty, discrimination, or fatigue cramp many of our days. Love seems real but is only biology. A healthy, fortunate man asked me last week, “Is this all there is?” I said “Yes.”

Lives are precious and cheap, one-of-a-kind and a dime a dozen, self-perpetuating and ephemeral.

 

Escher’s “Ascending and Descending”

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