Friday, January 07, 2011

White on white

For most of the day, the river was completely shrouded in white. Now, I look up and suddenly it has returned to view, albeit not completely. I love it, the albino version of the cliffs and water and sky. A good deal of my energy today has been sapped by recognition of my own mistakes and weaknesses, so it was a good day to finish reading Barbara Kingsolver's Small Wonder.

Not only for, "If you ever want to know what it sounds like when the universe goes "Ha! Ha!," just put a tidy plan on your calendar."

Or, for, "I remembered my Japanese friend's insistence on forgiveness as the highest satisfaction, and I understood it really for the first time: What a rich wisdom it would be, an how much more bountiful a harvest, to gain pleasure not from achieving personal perfection but from understanding the inevitability of imperfection and pardoning those who also fall short of it."

But for this:
Charles Darwin himself was a religious man, blessed with an extraordinary patience for observing nature's details, as well as the longevity and brilliance to put it all together. In his years of studying animate life he noticed four things, which any of us could notice today if we looked hard enough. They are:

1. Every organism produces more seeds or offspring than will actually survive to adulthood.

2. There is variation among these seeds or offspring.

3. Traits are passed down from one generation to the next.

4. In each generation the survivors succeed--that is, they survive--because they possess some advantage over the ones that don't succeed, and because they survive, they will pass that advantage on to the next generation. Over time, therefore, the incidence of that trait will increase in the population.

Bingo: the greatest, simplest, most elegant logical construct ever to dawn across our curiosity about the workings of natural life. It is inarguable, and it explains everything.

1 comment:

  1. oh, good good thoughts. thank you, i needed this today.


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