Of course you’re different… but you do belong here

I’m a Creep
I’m a weirdo
What the hell am I doin’ here
I don’t belong here

Radiohead, Creep

For many years I felt like this, in a life that now seems a million years ago, as if I were someone else back then. I felt different from ‘the others’, I wouldn’t fit. I reached the conclusion that I had been born in the wrong planet or at least at the wrong time, by at least 200 years.

But we’re all different, so I’m not so special. Our uniqueness is the result of biological processes that promote diversity, ‘imperfections‘. Every time our DNA is copied, it acquires a few mutations here and there. Mistakes are made ‘on purpose’ by the DNA replicating machinery and tolerated by the DNA repair system. This process has evolved over millions of years to guarantee diversity. And the purpose of diversity is to ensure that in cases of extreme (or no so extreme) change, at least some individuals in the species or at least some species will survive. Diversity is a mechanism for the survival of the species and of Life itself. Being different is the expression of the triumph of Life.

What is my purpose in this world? What is the purpose of a dandelion, of a birch, of a tuna, of a giraffe? Their individual purpose is to preserve their species and, ultimately, to preserve life itself. A collective purpose. How much individual freedom is a dandelion given? What if it doesn’t feel like serving its species, does it have a choice? And what makes me think that I do have a choice? Is it not our purpose in this world the same as that of other living organisms, to ensure the perpetuation of our species and of Life itself?

There is a part of me that rejects this seemingly materialistic interpretation of my purpose in the world. In a way, a part of me sees – or has seen – this life as a step we need to endure or suffer before we get to the ‘real stuff’. But what makes the afterlife more ‘real’? Even if our ability to assimilate ‘things as they are’ is limited, we still have the capacity to appreciate the surrounding reality in our own unique way, our peculiar interpretation of the universe’s musical score. Wouldn’t that ‘other world’ be tangible as well, in some way at least? How else would we perceive we’re in it? I do not know whether there is an another life, but to me it would be either a continuation of our individual life in some other form, not so different form this one, or our disappearance as separated individuals, dissolving into oneness, the death of the individual consciousness. Maybe it will come with the realisation that we were never as separated as we thought we were. That even if we were Life’s differentiated instruments, we always played our part in the whole to which we belonged.

And what if there wasn’t any afterlife? Wouldn’t that give this life suddenly a stunning intensity, a uniqueness that would make us be really present in ‘now and here’? Is there a higher purpose than to serve Life? Wouldn’t that satisfy our hunger for eternity?

We come into this life with our own planned obsolescence mechanisms (telomere shortening, among others), programmed to die. These mechanisms are actively conserved by evolutionary selection. It is good for the species that we disappear and make way for even more differentiated individuals who will expand the diversity of Life even further. The Gift of the Secondborn, as Tolkien would put it. But the fact that we are here for a short period of time doesn’t make us irrelevant. Quite the opposite, we’re essential.

We may just be a link between those who preceded us and those who will follow, but we are a necessary link. Our individual, unique, different life is necessary. Yes, maybe the ideas we have, including of course these ones, have been thought and expressed before by others. But the fact that we have them now, that we convey the message with our own unique interpretation of the music sheet, ensures that they are kept alive and transmitted into the future.
How could we not be necessary?

Why would a part of me rather hope for an afterlife of dissolving ourselves in togetherness, instead of experiencing this oneness here as a (tiny) contribution to humanity and Life? Hoping for something that is not ‘this and now’ just reflects lacks of acceptance and a wish to escape. That ‘afterlife’ we seek is already in us, if we could just see. ‘Here’ is the only reality. If we were able to be fully present, we would not need to hope for anything else.

We are the window through which the energy passes from one side to another. Not a container, not a sieve, but a channel. No longer a separation, but a link.  We are part of this world, of Life.

I believe I will just repeat myself until I learn and assimilate my own ideas…