Two Holes and a Tube

Published January 2015. From a two-year series of monthly short features titled “Remembrances” in Keystone Motorcycle Press.

A rented Honda Shadow.
November 1996 tour around Florida.
I’m cruising the Tamiami Trail, east to
west. Left the Northeast cold behind
and I am really enjoying the balmy
‘70s. Not much traffic this weekday,
and with open country on both sides
and Miami left behind, all I could see
was blue sky, puffy clouds and tropical
brilliance.

But, before long, the Everglades
closed in and the road was lined with
dense vegetation. I pulled to the
shoulder to take a break and leaned
over the Armco barrier to stare into a
drainage ditch. It seemed lifeless.
As my eyes adjusted from the wide
open sky to these darker spaces, I
thought I saw motion. Then another.
Soon things came into focus. The
”ditch” was teeming with fish. As I lis –
tened the air was filled with the
sounds of insects and birds. I smelled
the vegetation. Life had exploded into
my perception. And then, an ominous
splash. Heavy. Close. I really didn’t
have to guess what that was. Death.
Another dimension of life.

It was a seminal moment, due, I
suppose, to my just having finished an
incredible tome entitled Vital Dust , by
Christian De Duve, a Nobel-prized
Belgian biochemist. It’s a comprehen –
sive history of the evolution of life on
this planet and despite all the com –
plexity it revealed, the thing I most
took away from it was that multicellular
life, whether it’s the simplest
worm, or us, is really nothing more
than a tube with holes at both ends.

Sure, as we climb the ladder of life the
appendages become more sophis –
ticated, but at its most fundamental
level, all life must eat and eliminate.

So, as I looked down, up and
around, at the plethora of living things
that surrounded me, I was overcome
with the oneness I felt. From that
moment on, I was no longer an
exploiter of life on this marvelous
planet, I became a participant.

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