May 20, 2005

There are days

and there are days.

There are times when I wonder how we ever get anything across to each other using only language. How can an entire world communicate with each other when we don't even share one language. How can people who live in the same city communicate with each other when everyone is so different and everyone's understanding of the language is different? How can anyone, even as close as brother and sister, communicate, when words have such subtle nuances that what one is trying to make understood the other is hearing but assigning different meanings to, because of their own understandings of the words?

It's f**king astounding that we can get anything done.

I was watching a show on Discovery Health or something equivalent, where they, using some sort of 3-D sonogram system and very carefully placed very tiny cameras and cameramen, were showing the development of a baby from egg-and-sperm to delivery. I missed a lot of the latter parts, because frankly that much blood and misery gives me the heebies, but the narrator was showing the little one wayyyyy back while it was just a cluster of cells and a pair of eyespots, and the little wiggler was still using Mom's blood supply to carry things hither and yon, and suddenly the little lump of cells that was a heart twitched it's first beat. Erratically at first, then over the course of hours steadily, it twitched and bumped it's way along. I didn't realise this but at this early of a stage of development the heart is only a two-chamber design, I assume for simplicity's and necessity's sake. The thing being, it was the person's first heartbeat. The voice-over went on to explain the factoid that we all hear at some point in our lives--from the time that little muscle started twitching to the time it stops it will have beat 30-odd billion times, or whatever the mind-bogglingly huge number is.

And that's just the heart, a relatively simple muscle with a bunch of tubes and things that works automatically.

How do we function? How is it possible that an organism as complex as a human being can get up, walk around, communicate (albeit poorly) and build things like jet airplanes and 100 story tall buildings. We can't even agree on where to leave the toilet seat, and yet we can send words across cables using light to people across a world that's so insanely big that it makes Oprah Winfrey small by comparison.

So many things can go wrong. So many things DO go wrong. And still we carry on. Shakespeare phrased it well (like there's another way for The Bard to phrase something) when he said:

"What a piece of work is a Man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god -- the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!"

And how we can hate, and rave, and destroy, both ourselves and others. How effortlessly we throw down what others have built up. How easily we lash out at each other with our words, uncaring what effect they might have, driven along on the red tide of our own anger.

The paragon of animals. I watch Mamie out on our patio, teaching her three kittens how to be cats. She has such a different conciousness than we do. She doesn't worry about taxes, nor about when her life will end. She doesn't consider things like love and hatred, she doesn't fret over bills nor if she'll get to work on time. She spends her days doing what she has to do--eat, sleep, and turn her kittens into survival-abled cats. She plays with them, showing them how to fight, how to turn, how they can leap over something to attack from behind and how to lie down below things to pounce suddenly. She shows them how to eat, where to sleep, and even tries to make them understand that the two honking-big things that keep coming out there with more food and clean cat litter are not dangerous to them. She talks to them almost constantly in a steady stream of prusten sounds; murmurs, mumbles, growls and meows. With a vocabularly limited to perhaps 30 or 40 noises she communicates enough to her little ones that they learn to be fully functioning cats. With a system so simple and effective I have to wonder--how in the Sam Hell do WE ever get anything done?

Momma said there'd be days like this. She just never told me how many there'd be.

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