Speck has no eyes, no ears, and no central nervous system to process sensory data, yet he does just fine. Somehow he “knows” where he is, what he can do, where he can go, and with whom he can associate. How can he do all those specific things? No one really knows. Although Speck is smaller than “a grain of mustard seed,” he maneuvers in space like many tiny objects and experiences a “life” where many things happen to him that humans can observe. It’s my arduous task to use my imaginary powers in order to figure out how the smallest piece of matter manages to do all that.
You probably haven’t seen Speck, but he’s out there somewhere mingled with the dust on the ground, submerged in the yet to be evaporated water in stagnant puddles, or aloft in the haze or mist that blurs the sunlight. He moves silently hither and yon with the slightest of alterations in the physical conditions of the atmosphere and his environment. Yet, despite all his marvelous travels, Speck has collected no fancy souvenirs to tote around nor colorful stickers for baggage to show where he’s been.
His “life” isn’t complicated by the numerous social and cultural demands that humans experience. He succumbs to the forces of Nature without complaint, because he has no delusions of grandeur nor does he suffer from the hubris of believing that he is the favored offspring of the Creator. He experiences no pain, euphoria, or other emotions because he has not one neuron to respond to the exotic chemical substances that result in mood swings in the human brain.
Chaos is a friend, not an enemy. Random changes bring variety into his “life.” He doesn’t worry at all about what’s going to happen to him next or later when he passes on. He isn’t disturbed by what happens to others just like him. He is unfamiliar with polar concepts like good or bad, hot or cold, and fair or unfair. Those concepts of a thinking animal evade him, and the lack of them permits him to be more stable and tolerant of whatever situation he encounters.
Studying Speck hopefully will give me some valuable insight into why our human life often seems so dangerous, unpleasant, purposeless, and short. Speck and his companion, Spark, are the two mysterious phenomena in the universe that we humans believe are indestructible and occasionally interchangeable. “Matter” and “energy” are the generic categories that we use to identify each of them.
Humans think of Speck and Spark as unintelligible objects, but that’s because we humans haven’t defined concretely how things actually function without a modicum of self-awareness in this complex universe . If self-awareness is indeed an essential ingredient for demonstrating primitive intelligence, then both Speck and Spark should be considered somewhat intelligent. Humans may contend that inanimate objects do not think, they merely respond to forces. But their obedient responses indicate some intuitive grasp of the options they have for responding. For example, if Speck was a part of a molecule of water, he would have to be aware of how to change his physical self (or appearance to humans) in response to the swings in the temperature of his environment. Temperature is not considered a force in itself, but a stimulant for an object to be more or less active.
What this implies in my humble estimation is that all the sophisticated evolution of animal and plant organisms depends totally on the unseen foundation provided by Speck and Spark. That is too amazing for humans to accept, preoccupied as they are with extending their individual lives. The truth is that forms of matter and energy were primordial and essential for any kind of protoplasm to evolve. So, which is more important in the final analysis? The likes of Speck and Spark, I suspect.
Not possessing any anxiety and the emotional baggage that humans frequently carry with them caused by various external and internal threats to their survival (either actual or forecast), Speck would appear to be serene and unflustered. He combines with other minuscule forms of matter easily and subsequently abandons those relationships without rancor or sadness when the time comes to do so. He fits in wherever he goes and does what he is supposed to do. Without a “mind of his own,” he causes no trouble and makes no visible waves that can be recorded with modern human technology. Harmony results because he cooperates.
Although he has no observable means to communicate, Speck manages to unite with others of his kind and separate when an aggregate of them becomes too large to remain physically stable. The disintegration of the commune that he belongs to at any given time follows the Laws of Nature. The consequence is to alter his physical condition or appearance by uniting him with some other more stable aggregate. He doesn’t need any outsider to protect his rights, his individuality, or his future. The laws governing the infinitesimal parts of the physical universe are inviolable. That humans haven’t detected many of these laws and accepted their natural consequences add to our human anguish when things happen to the human race that seem to be “undesirable” because they may extinguish human life.
Life of animate things is not eternal nor indestructible. The longer duration of elapsed time that Speck and his friends “enjoy” means nothing to them because they have no the fear of being terminated. An element of matter is just what it is. Perhaps it changes form through associating peaceably or otherwise with other ingredients, but it remains basically stable even when seeming to be active to us humans.
We should admire Speck and other elements like him. He is reliable, durable, responsible, and uncomplaining. He is very useful when we follow the “directions on the package.” Our limited anthropomorphic way of evaluating everything should be laid aside because the more important parts of the universe are the active ingredients, not the temporary forms that they constitute.
Speck’s daily routine doesn’t vary very much from sun up to sun down. Like humans, he does the same thing day in, day out until some cataclysmic event alters his environment. Then he follows the course of least resistance which results in a new pattern of daily activities. What is missing from the transition affecting Speck is the emotional roller-coaster that humans suffer caused by doubt and fear. There is an automatic acceptance of change that Speck and his kind exhibit that facilitates the natural flow of the evolving process. If there is conflict between any two elements, energy is released and the process settles down and finds a new equilibrium.
The curse that can negatively affect humans but not Speck, is their active, curious minds whose misinterpretation of data input to them can influence human decisions disastrously. These arrogant and selfish minds seek control over animate and inanimate things inside and outside their bodies, a struggle that the mindless primitive elements like Speck automatically dodge. What seems to bless mankind from their very limited point of view: their “advanced and intelligent” mind, ultimately becomes confused and loses control over the highly complex processes that hold the so-called human organism together and give it a unique identity.
For Speck the creation of a living creature or plant is a cataclysmic event. It establishes a new, temporary form that he participates in generating. His role is insignificant perhaps, but he must obey the laws that govern the formation of anything in the universe. The human body is gradually formed by many dynamic processes. From Speck’s simple viewpoint, each minor event in that evolutionary process would cause a cataclysmic change in Speck’s environment. But that’s no problem for him. He is so used to change, to formation and reformation, that he is not troubled by what the humans would call “chaos” in his ongoing “life.”
Humans can’t help but like Speck’s cooperative plasticity. He knows what he is, where he can go, and what he can do. He can associate with some other elements without losing his identity. But when his identity does change (from the human point of view) as it conforms to prevailing physical laws, that’s OK for him. His primary purpose is to conform, where humans aren’t sure what their purpose is. As intelligent as humans are, they don’t know all the laws that govern Speck’s existence, so they are forced to speculate. However, the brainless Speck is automatically aware of what he is allowed to do and what he is not allowed to do. Humans are still searching for the inviolable laws that govern their lives and control their destiny.
The human body is like a city of Specks and other basic elements where each inhabitant is obeying the rules that pertain to him. The interplay of various elements that are different from Speck causes cataclysmic events to take place, and some of these are injurious to the overall health of the human. Human death only brings about a new cataclysmic event for Speck. It’s neither tragic nor comedic from his point of view.
Speck goes along with Spark wherever the process leads them. Their journey has no final destination. Speck is not elated nor depressed about each new experience in his “life.” Things may happen for some reason, but that’s of no concern to him. He knows what he is, what he can do, where he can go, and with whom he is allowed to associate. That’s enough knowledge for him to exist!