Having learned more and more of biology has made me fairly anxious. Getting older isn’t helping, either.
What, Me Worry?
Most people live as if the world simply were as it is, as if a body – their body – just functioned.
If anything happens, you just get it repaired.
It might be much better for one’s sanity not to worry.
As the – Stoic? Buddhist? – argument goes, “As long as I am, there’s no death (of me), so I needn’t worry. When I’m dead, there’s no me anymore, so I won’t worry.” Or something like that.
Study enough biology, though, and things get crazy.
Heart Rate, Heart Rate, Heart… Arrest?
With all I’ve also done around sports and sports tracking data, the main factor being considered is typically heart rate.
Well, it would be enough to worry about if you only heard about people who suffered some heart issues during a running competition and died.
(And well, the legend of the original marathon run is that the messenger who ran all that distance managed to deliver the message of the Greek victory over the Persians – and then promptly died from exhaustion. Maybe it was cardiac arrest?)
Have a look at heart rate zones and endurance training based on them all the time, though.
Find results about your recovery status and training effort based on your heart rate variability.
Get into discussions about minimum heart rate during sleep and otherwise and what it might mean about your health.
And then study enough biology to have learned exactly where the electrical signal that tells your heart muscles to start contracting originates.
How it travels from one part of the heart to the next to enervate the right muscles, in the right sequence, to achieve the right contractions.
It boggles the mind that this usually just works as it should, for as long as it does, without breakdown. But of course, sometimes it does break down.
It’s all Much MOre Complicated
It is just a minuscule part of the complexity of a human body.
Such insight makes all the talk of life extension and designer genetic changes rather laughable.
Things go together and interact with each other to such an extent, it is ridiculous to think that changes in one place wouldn’t cause changes somewhere unforeseen.
It is already hard enough, given enough awareness of this complexity and all the things that could go wrong, to just forget that things could only too easily go wrong.
Then again, there is the evolutionary argument that things – an organism, life – must be working well enough or they wouldn’t have survived.
In fact, in so many of the things we have found to be possible – and so much where people draw the conclusion that no warnings (of ecological collapse) could be true because they have still not materialized – we do not really see how much we are able to do.
More likely, we only see how well biological systems and ecosystems have developed towards resilience.
Lots can go wrong, and things still go on.
No Life Matters
Then again, the same evolutionary thinking also tells us that we as individuals don’t matter.
Biology, as the continuation of life, is all just a game of statistics.
As long as enough individuals of a species survive for it to continue, it’s all good for this species. Until it isn’t.
No individual life matters (until and unless it is one too many, making it matter to the statistics).
To Sleep, Perchance to Wake Up Again
And so, I bed myself to sleep wondering if I will wake up again. And with the awareness that, in the long run and overall, my life does not matter one iota.
But then, I wake up grateful to have woken up again.
I know that my dreams and desires matter very little, if at all, for the course of the world. I’m well aware that my life could end anytime – and in fact, most life could.
Even in awareness of death, of my mortality – and maybe, even more so – I want to do things I want to do.
Putting Life Into Years
Giving up on journeys of discovery in the mountains and foreign lands, on the microexploration of my self and my immediate surroundings, could be safer – or it could be the next street crossing, not the next mountain crossing, that gets me.
I’ll rather be taking the risk that I love than give up on life.
I have no idea if I will ever manage to put more of the thoughts and ideas I would most like to be able to express fully to paper, to pixels, anywhere at all where they get shared.
Let alone if I will ever get them into a shape that could make them get shared and get to be of any effect in the world, should they ever be considered worthwhile by anyone.
Cooking the next meal, earning an income, educating about the chilli, or trying to argue for solving ecological problems on Earth and leading a diversity of life off-world as well – it’s all my life, though.
Not all of it is nice, much of it is just necessary. Even the most inspiring person has very basic needs and urges. Even the greatest passion has aspects that are a drag. Even gods are forgotten.
But this life we have now, that is *the* life.
There’s nothing but to live it.