Tuesday, October 04, 2005

sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe

Every once in a while, the symphony of existence starts to feel like it has reached this frenzied crecendo that sounds suspiciously more like cacophony. What I would not give to be dedicated to one cause right now, and one cause alone. My hermano and I were talking today, comparing our bumbling ways. Here's what we came up with: the bro-seph is fumbling for a light switch to illuminate his path, while I am just bounding forward in the dark, running into tables and walls along the way. His way seems more passive, but it's anyone's guess which of us will actually get to where we're trying to go.

It is important, at such moments, to take a deep breath, and, quite simply, give up. Do you know that, in the influenza epidemic of 1918, nearly a third of the world's population passed away? It has always been called Spanish influenza, because that's where it was first identified, but, in typical style, we blame the Euros for something we started, as the virus was later discovered to originate from an American military hospital. Normally, flu hits the very young and the very old, because their immune systems are usually more sensitive, and unable to mount a response to the virus. But the 1918 influenza was nasty, and its target was 15-35 year olds. It killed over 25 million people. I repeat, over 25 million people. That sort of epidemic boggles the mind.

Usually, I am the first to roll my eyes at alarmists. I cannot stand it when one major tragedy turns into an evening news running commentary soundbyte: Next up, tsunamis in South Asia, how it could happen on the 7-miles of New Hampshire coast next week.. It smacks of self-absorption, really. But in this particular case, I am willing to make an exception. If a flu pandemic really does manifest in our lifetime, with all our advances in science, medicine, and understanding of viruses, it is going to be nearly impossible to minimize in a timely fashion.

Yesterday in class during lecture, the instructor got a little red in the face and corrected himself when he said, "the cells decide," because, I suppose, it's anthropomorphic. Cells neither have feelings, nor do they weigh their options before deciding what to do. It's either a pre-programmed response or based on random chance. And I know that the instructor would frown at me for writing this, but so much feels like it's either pre-programmed or random chance. And so, I just think it's best, when it feels like the war against entropy cannot be won, to simply think back on Dylan, and know that all you can do is do what you must. I find some strange measure of contentment in that.

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