An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of August 17, 2003
issued from the woods just south of Natchez, Mississippi, USA

ON REALLY SEEING A SEED

A seed is something Mother Nature thought up as an appropriate vessel for transferring information from one generation to the next. The transferal of this information is especially dramatic and artful because typically it involves a being at the end of one season handing off the information to an unknown being living at the beginning of a completely different season. Moreover, usually the two seasons are separated from one another by a deadly winter or dry season.

To really see a seed, your mind must penetrate the seedcase and bypass the endosperm, radicle and plumule, and focus on the coded abstraction set within the chromosomes. I mean the DNA code, the code spelled out in terms of nucleotide sequences, the code that gives instructions within cells on how to make living things and keep them alive. As far as life on Earth is concerned, there's no more important information than this.

Deep inside those seeds, how tiny and fragile are the slender, spiraling molecules on which the code is written. You can scramble or destroy the information coded there simply by exposing the seed to X-rays, alpha, beta or gamma rays, to war's mustard gas, great heat or cold, or a host of other environmental factors or pollutants.

One of the most interesting features about genetic material has been explored in Richard Dawkins's book, "The Selfish Gene." In that book Dawkins claims that "We animals exist for their {the genes'} preservation and are nothing more than their throwaway survival machines."

Among other things, it turns out that much genetic material consists of abundant repetitions of the same information. It's as if the coded information is aware of itself and rejoices in reproducing itself, even if the replicated information is of no value to us, the biological organisms carrying it.

To really see a seed, you have to make yourself vulnerable to the notion that maybe we biological entities are only notes on a sheet of music, and what's really important is the music, not the notes -- that the Creator rejoices less in us carriers of information, than in the information itself. After all, the Creator worked on us for only a few years, but the information held in any seed represents the crystallized results of experiments in life conducted during more eons than we can know.

To really see a seed, you must close your eyes and imagine a music in which the whole Earth is a single note in a vast melody that goes on and on.

Then, you get up and go look at your turnip patch and see all those little green plants with their solar panels directed toward the sun, and what can you do but laugh with delight? Facebook Icon.