Once upon a time (to be a bit more specific, approximately 3.8 billion years ago), life somehow emerged as the first cell has arisen. For our modern life this is rather unimaginable as almost everything in our daily lives is based on cellular life. Starting with ourselves, the fruits we eat, the paper we write on, the clothes we wear, the plastic we use for innumerable objects and even the energy we consume depends to a large extent on fossil matter.
And all this goes back to the starting point, to the one day where everything began. Now imagine how it must have been to be this first cell in a non-alive environment, surrounded by deep oceans, sharp rocks, noxious sulphur gases, acidic ponds, and no oxygen. Pretty hostile, right? And yet, under these conditions life started. It is thrilling to wonder and speculate how it would have felt to ‘wake up’ under these conditions and experiencing all this while being completely alone and isolated. Of course, a primitive cell couldn’t feel or think, but I imagine it rather horrific. Having no idea of what is going on, no other ‘entity’ that shares the same experiences, no help or shelter that you could seek.
So what would I have done if I had been the first living thing on earth, but with all my senses and the ability to move? Honestly, I have no idea, I think I would have been really confused at first. But it is also pretty cool to explore all this for the first time. I love to discover new places and exploring this uncharted territory would have been very exciting. I could have walked around, touched these old rocks that are now deeply buried under the oceans and seeing the same world as it is today but in a completely different way. However, I suppose it must have become very boring after a few days. Besides the lack of drinkable water or even food, there would have been no social interaction, no purpose of living, no entertainment, … No, definitely not a place to exist and to live a meaningful live. I prefer the way of living today with all its amenities, even though dwelling on this thought is amusing. But let me come to the centre of my story. I think this short digression brings us right to the core meaning of our lives. Who are we and why are we here? I don’t want to lose myself in philosophical argument here, but I am convinced that it is important to sometimes ask this question to ourselves and to remind us of who we are. In the end, just the progeny of this very first cell. So, can we really put ourselves as the rulers of the earth and decide to exploit all its lives for our own wellbeing? In the end, all life is related to each other and is as valuable as our own lives. The answer to my question is yes, because that is life, everything is a circle, we take in order to live and in the end we die and our body becomes part of the nature again. But here is the critical point, when one takes more than needed and keeps it, this equilibrium gets imbalanced and the circle breaks. In nature, the best predators live a happy life and eat as much as they want (given that there is prey). Cheetahs easily kill springboks for lunch and sometimes they are even bold and team up to kill a buffalo. But they don’t hunt just for fun and hoard their prey. In contrast, the species ‘human being’ often buys unnecessary stuff or stores loads of food and goods at their homes to fill up their apartments. Yes, that is the cornerstone our modern capitalistic economy, but that is not how the earth, the nature, and live itself works. We are part of a circuit, whether we want it, or not. We are no lonely cell that just exists without any idea of how this world works. In fact, we are the exact opposite of this individuum. We are a well educated and intelligent species that has achieved incredible breakthroughs which were achieved through cooperation and discipline. And yet, there is this intrinsic drive to make things better, higher, and faster. People like to possess things to set themselves apart from other and to be ‘of higher value’ than another individual. This might be materialistic, like stealing, but also through mental or physical offences. But this simply cannot fit it the circle of life where things need to be given back, when something is taken. And frankly, many of the things we possess are not even improving our live quality, but rather worsen it because if it doesn’t satisfy us, we usually want more and fall back to this drive.
So let me come to an end. To be clear, I don’t want to convince people to sacrifice life’s amenities. But I rather want to use this post to remind ourselves of who we are and the place we take in this world in earth’s history. My main argument is that if people are aware of that, grateful for the gift of life and a little more modest in their way of living, this world would become a better place. I am convinced that in this way, both the omnipresent sustainability issue, but also the living together of the humanity would strongly improve. And in the end, that’s the real asset of our modern world, right? We won’t be all dying soon as a cause of climate change, for instance, but if the circle of life continues to being kept imbalanced, life will become more challenging, and the environment will become more hostile to life, restricting us to fewer places to live. And eventually, we might end up in a world full of rocks, oceans, acidic ponds and rain and little green nature that produces the oxygen we breathe. Wait, doesn’t that ring a bell? Yes, that’s the earth of the lonely cell. Only that it would be our earth, the lonely humans earth …