I am always reassured when I see a strong correlation between ostensibly lowly, mundane life forms and myself. For one thing, it shows Nature is no fool; she simplifies her work by using time tested tools at every level of life—and ‘non life’ as well. Those tools are the so-called instincts. I suppose the reassurance I feel arise from seeing examples of my being truly connected to all life being.
Indeed, it is somewhat puzzling why humanity has gone to such lengths to see itself otherwise, like being created in God’s image. Perhaps having no way to notice the subtle (yet profound) similarities between ‘them’ and us, we turned to myth and imagination, with our species centric ego giving our myths direction.
Developing ways to notice more, beginning with the telescope and microscope, has changed all that. We are progressively seeing how nature works its magic. The recent article in Science News, On the trail of cell navigation, shows the not-so-mysterious samenss between how the ‘dumb old’ amoeba and I approach life.
First, ask yourself what single feature of experience has turned out to be the surest guide to living life overall. I’m not referring to any particular experience, but more about an overall features of experience. More like a thread running through the way, what does experience tell you?
Now, as you read this short excerpt from the article, see if you notice any similarities between how you and cells navigate their way through life. Afterward I’ll say what I saw.
Cells seeking paths through the body’s tangle of tissues might adapt the navigational strategy of Hansel and Gretel. In the Brothers Grimm tale, the lost kids dropped pebbles and bread crumbs along a wooded trail to help lead them back out of a freaky forest.
Instead of using markers telling them where to go, though, cells might leave behind repellent molecules telling them where not to go.
In a new study, scientists suggest these markers help trailblazing cells move away from areas where they’ve gotten stuck, such as confusing dead ends and tricky corners.
“I think it’s a really nice idea that cells could be using something like this, a simple mechanism that allows them to navigate through these complex environments,” says biologist Iain Couzin of Princeton University, who was not involved in the study.
When looking over my life (approaching 70 now), I’ve found the most dependable way of navigating life has been the same for me as it is for cells. Discovering “where not to go” has turned out to be my best guide of where to go. Discovering what ideas, plans, ‘truths’, goals, etc., are dead ends (by-paths) greatly simplify and consolidate life. The learning never ceases. That which promises to be “the dropped pebbles and bread crumbs along a wooded trail to help lead” comes up a distant second.