All things Great and Small

What are you grateful for?

Great ritual Laurie.

I am grateful for the miracle of existence.

As a biochemist and general systems geek the improbability of the existence of life in general and me in particular is something I am conscious of most days. In the face of all the many ways in which non existence is possible, we exist. That is something I am truly grateful for. Not grateful to anything or anyone for, just grateful for.

The numerical complexity of existence is something I contemplate often, and I just looked up from my keyboard, looked out over our deck, over the tree tops, across the bay to the snow capped 9,200ft Mt Manukau all sparkling in the first rays of morning sunlight, and the stark beauty of the experience of being is with me also.

Last week I spent 2 days (1 night) up in those mountains at the Hutton’s Shearwater colony at the head of the Kowhai river (went in and out via helicopter), and it was an awesome experience. We were burrowscoping to identify active burrows with eggs in them, mark them with stakes, so that we can go back in March and see how many have chicks. We marked 70 in the area above the research hut on the first day (another 57 in another colony about 1.5km further up the valley the next day). I woke shortly after midnight to the amazing sound of thousands of seabirds in the high mountains, got up and went out and just sat on a snow tussock in the middle of the colony for a couple of hours. I watched the birds flying overhead silhouetted against the stars, and felt others walking over my feet, oblivious to my existence as anything other than another bump in the landscape. It was just such an amazing experience, sitting up there listening to thousands of these birds flying in and out, and calling to each other, and thinking about their probable evolution. It seems very probable that their ancestors were nesting on the coast about 25 million years ago, when the Kaikoura orogeny started and the mountains started pushing skyward. They just kept going back to the same spot, but the spot was being pushed higher and higher, further from the ocean. So now they are a small seabird nesting in the high mountains. Amazing things.

So much of life seems to be like that, level upon level of amazing and unlikely events that somehow managed to work in the particular contexts that they did.

Such an amazing thing to be grateful for.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see
This entry was posted in Laurie's blog and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Comment and critique welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s