Saturday, February 25, 2012

Adaptation

I was in the kitchen with my mom tonight, as she chopped vegetables for stir fry, telling her about a documentary I'd watched about termites.

"It's amazing," I said, "They have this whole complex colony with a queen, workers, soldiers. They build these elaborate fortresses with amazing efficiency."

"And all that just happened by accident," she said, ironically, because she believes God created all the animals.

"Well no," I said, "Not by accident. It was adaptation for survival. They learned, over generations, to do that so they would not go extinct."

She continued chopping vegetables.

"I don't think they're mutually exclusive," I said, "God and evolution."

"Look at the rainforest," she said, "All those animals that we don't even see or know about. It's amazing. They couldn't have just happened."

"I agree," I said, "They are perfectly suited to their environment because they have evolved to be that way, to survive."

She looked at me, incredulously.

"If God just created them all, fully formed, what about the Ice Age?" I asked.

"The Ice Age?"

"Yeah, I don't think there was a rainforest during the Ice Age. So when did God create the rainforest?"

"I don't know much about the Ice Age."

"Neither do I," I said, "But I'm fairly certain it wiped out a lot of animals. And when the ice retreated, new animals evolved and adapted and reproduced until, viola…a rainforest."

I don't think my mom and I will ever see eye-to-eye on evolution but, to me, it is as glorious as creation, plus it explains a lot more.

I actually draw a lot of inspiration from animals. They are, for the most part, perfectly in sync with their environment. They just know what to do.

And I, with my "superior" consciousness, fumble around and fuck up all the time. Termites don't fuck up. They live, they create, they die.

Life is adaptation, not stasis. Stasis is death, for animals and humans.

When the rains come and break down the termite fortress, they adapt and rebuild. When I am forced to leave my apartment of seven years, I freak out, get anxious, depressed. But I take comfort from the animals who simply adapt. Changes come, relentlessly, and you have two choices: adapt or die. Reluctantly, I will adapt to survive.

I carry, somewhere deep within my genetic memory, thousands of species come and gone, each having fought desperately to survive. I am here, the child of my mother and a million other mothers, stretching back through Ice Ages, wars, disease, natural disasters, forced migrations, and love.

I am here because a million other creatures before me said "yes" to change, said "yes" to life, and fought for it with everything they had. That, to me, is a miracle. And who can say for sure that God was not involved in this?

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