Life Is Precious, Life Is Cheap

Life is precious. From humans to microbes, each organism arranges itself to energize itself, repair itself, avoid danger, resist death. A tomato plant defies death by its very persistence in living and by living beyond itself through its seeds. Life must be precious for living is what organisms do at almost any price. With its roots in biology, love is real. The atoms that compose our bodies were born in stars and move on from us out to the earth. We search other planets for signs of life.

A cancer survivor I know travels to the ocean once a year to celebrate her life.

Life is cheap. The number of organisms on this planet, from humans to microbes, is beyond counting. Life must be cheap, for living is what all these organisms do. Every body is vulnerable, dependent on the right heat, light, and water, built from ordinary materials, prone to breakage. Big fish eat little fish, and humans eat big fish. Fear, depression, hunger, illness, disability, poverty, discrimination, or fatigue cramp many of our days. Love is only biology, an incentive to bond to protect the offspring. pThe atoms that compose our bodies are almost entirely empty space; if an atom were the size of a golf ball, the nearest electron would be in orbit a mile away; everything between is vacuum.

A healthy, fortunate man I know asked me last week, “Is this all there is?” I said “Yes.”

Lives are precious and cheap, one-of-a-kind and a dime a dozen, self-perpetuating and ephemeral.


Escher’s “Ascending and Descending”