Likely you have heard of the chicken or the egg causality dilemma, ”which came first, the chicken or the egg?” I think, Samuel Butler’s statement about *egg & hen is more intriguing: “A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg.”
In The Botany of Desire (2002), Michael Pollan writes about apples, tulips, cannabis and potatoes to tell a similar story, a story of stories I honestly love. The story of apples that captured our attention with their sweetness to spread their seeds across Earth; the story of the beauty of tulips for which the Dutch fell mad seeding the success story of the flower’s worldwide demand; the story of cannabis and how its ability to synthesize a compound and our ancient desire for altered consciousness lead us to be attentive listeners to the particular needs of a weed; the story of the nourishing potato that knew how to satisfy our constant need for control, of which the need of feeding ourselves is a remarkable instance.
So, is the hen an egg’s way to create another egg? From the apple, tulip, cannabis, potato viewpoint, are we their way to spread their genes, diversify and evolve? You may argue, no way, eggs, apples and tulips have no consciousness. Indeed, they probably didn’t meticulously plan it, having us under control, but then it is hard to ignore the success stories they had through us – which we didn’t probably plan either. I love the story because it makes it difficult to draw a hard line between nature and us, it makes me wonder whether stating that nature has no intrinsic value extends to our intrinsic value, too. For being without consciousness – which is, I believe, what we assume – it is breathtaking how some instances of nature found solutions to problems that are sometimes far more elegant than the absurdity we design. Simplicity. What if nurturing the art of the apple, the tulip, the cannabis and potato would actually make problems look to us way more simple?
I started this post because I want to quote Michael for a statement that I think I love even more,
Forgetting well is almost as important as remembering well.
Sure, in our daily life we need to remember a lot of things but for a balanced life we, perhaps, need to forget even more things. Indeed, you better forget things unworthy to remember because if you don’t, or can’t, they are likely to turn into trauma.
Forgive or forget, but don’t forget to forgive.