We call a thing a color. We call this lemon “yellow.”
But the reason we see it as yellow is because it absorbs all wavelengths of light except yellow. Yellow is actually the one color it rejects.
We should call it ayellow or nonyellow or something.
And the same applies to all colors.
Life–the unquantifiable and ill-defined thing life–takes perfectly ordinary atoms & molecules and gives them a motive force, like throwing a stick into a river. Suddenly, it zips. And here’s the weird part: I cannot take into my body any molecules that have not been transformed by the force of life. Unliving molecules are useless–actually harmful–to my body. Yet the molecules in question need not be alive at the time when I ingest them, only that they once were, as if they earned some kind of degree. Trees can suck from the earth, and lichens from rock, but either of these would poison me.
The answer to this oddness is, of course, that not just any old molecules will do. My body needs very specific chemical forms of molecules formed by life. By taking vitamins, we have finally found a way to fake our bodies out, thinking it has found those life-transformed molecules when it really hasn’t. But one cannot live on vitamins alone.
And when I die, my molecules will be on the loose again, ready to be snatched up by other lives.
While up at the Lake last week, it struck me as odd: those atoms have formed themselves into a medium of life that is a tree. And those atoms have formed into a medium of life that is moss. And so on and so forth, and some atoms ended up forming a medium of life that is me.
And it seemed like there should be a lounge somewhere, where atoms in between mediums would meet and take a load off. Some are smoking. There’s coffee/tea/hot chocolate.
“What’s your next assignment?”
“A dog. Welsh terrier.”
“Wish we could trade. I got grass again. I’m so frickin’ sick of plants.”
At one end of the lounge is a desk. Some very overworked bureaucrat atoms man the line, passing out the slips that tell the atoms where to go.
One lone atom picks up its new assignment, and hoots.