Categories
Life Nature

600

Yesterday, I read an article about Greenland Sharks.

Apparently, Greenland Sharks can live a very, very long time. Hundreds of years, in fact. Researchers have discovered one shark that they estimate is 600 years old. They’ve found others that appear to be in the 200 and 300 year-old range.

There’s no definite conclusion as to why Greenland Sharks have such longevity. It’s likely that their habitat, cold and deep water, plays a factor. But there’s obviously more at play, something in their genetic makeup that influences their lifespan.

Just as humans have a natural expiration date genetically codified in our DNA, Greenland Sharks are pre-programmed to survive to a specific range of years. Real-world living and medical circumstances can affect the actual lifespan, of course; there’s no guarantee of reaching a certain age. Assuming good health and safety, however, most humans can expect a lifetime of between 70-90 years. And, it seems, most Greenland Sharks can expect a lifetime of centuries.

During the past 600 years, humans have formed countries, invented automobiles and airplanes and spaceships, discovered cures for illnesses, and learned how to preserve an image of a moment in time and then send it to millions of other people with a simple click of a button.

I’m haunted by the thought of sharks swimming unceasingly through the deep, dark, cold water while all of this happened on the land above them. I’m also a tiny bit jealous of these sharks. I don’t want to be a Greenland Shark, but it would be nice to have the potential to live as long as they do.

That’s not the way things work, however. So, instead of focusing on the question of why humans don’t also get 600 years, I’ll be grateful for the ones I’ve had. And, I’ll do my best to make the most of the years, however many they are, that are (hopefully) left ahead of me.

Categories
Good People

Thanks

I like what Carl Jung had to say about teachers:

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”

Here’s to my favorite teachers, Ms. C and the other Ms. C, Ms. Z, Mr. S, and A, M, and J. Thank you for giving me the tools to succeed and the inspiration to want to do so.

And here’s to all the others out there who teach and train and coach and mentor, who share knowledge along with kindness and hope and determination, grace and humor and imagination. Thank you for believing in us and, in so doing, helping us to believe in ourselves.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week.

Categories
Life

Battle

I received my second COVID-19 vaccine last Thursday.

I won’t lie; I had a rough weekend. Fever, chills, headache, exhaustion, very similar to when I actually had COVID-19.

I have no regrets, however. If I suddenly found myself in a time-travel situation, going back to Thursday and choosing whether to present my arm for the jab, I’d gladly go through it once more.

Because when I had COVID-19, I didn’t feel only sick. I also felt afraid. Every day, every minute. Sometimes, the feeling was just a whisper, a low undercurrent; other times, it became more demanding, requiring acknowledgment.

Fear that the illness would get worse. Fear that I’d end up in the hospital, unable to breathe, isolated and alone. Fear that there were things happening within my body, beyond the obvious symptoms, that might manifest later.

But the greater fear was that I’d give the illness to somebody else. Perhaps a family member, one of my sons or my husband, quarantined in the house with me, living in separate rooms but still exposed to shared air. Or, perhaps in the few days between when I was exposed and when I developed symptoms, I’d unknowingly spread the virus to strangers, who then took it home to their families.

I know that the odds are mostly in our favor, that most of us, even if we catch the virus, will end up fine. I also know that this illness does, in fact, kill. It kills brutally, and cruelly, and very often, arbitrarily.

It isn’t stupid to be afraid of COVID-19. It’s wise. We are wise to approach this enemy with caution.

So, if a quick needle jab and a few days’ worth of feeling under the weather could help to end that fear and destroy that enemy? Sign me up.

As I recovered from the after-effects of my choice, I experienced a new feeling. Empowerment. The fever and headache weren’t scary symptoms, like before. They were now evidence of victory.

Take THAT, you stupid virus! Ka-POW! Blammo! Hiiiii-YA! My immune system was joining all the others out there in a great battle. And every day, our numbers are growing. If we keep going, we can win.


We are no longer at the mercy of this illness. We warriors now, fighting together.


Categories
Life Pets

Awake

Pre-pandemic, my alarm would wake me up at 5:00 a.m., insistently reminding me that it was time to get ready for my hour-long commute and the official start of my work day.

Each morning, there I’d be, snoozing comfortably, dreaming away, and then suddenly, a loud, irritating beep-beep-beep would jolt me awake. It would not stop until I took action. So, I’d hit the snooze button, putting off the inevitable, only to repeat the process all over again a few minutes later. Eventually, I’d accept reality and slowly exit the soft, warm bed, shuffle around in the early morning darkness, and get the day started.

Now, I rarely set my alarm clock. There’s no need; I’m not commuting, and the morning is no longer a rush of action I have to complete before hitting the road.

Instead, my waking up experience revolves around our dogs. Today, for example, I was awakened by Mollie and Charlie bouncing on the bed. They were playing some form of Dog Tag, with Mollie merrily pushing Charlie to one side and then Charlie gleefully jumping back across the blankets for another round. When they noticed that my eyes were open, they both bounded toward me with doggie smiles and wagging tails, eager to be the first to welcome me into the new day.

I miss my job. I miss seeing my colleagues every day, and I miss the work we did together, the sense of purpose it created.

I also resent the pandemic. I resent the lives it’s destroyed as well as all the interrupted plans and goals, the lost opportunities and disrupted expectations.

But, I do not miss that 5:00 a.m. alarm, and I do not resent the change in my morning routine. I much prefer being awakened at a more decent hour by happy, playful dogs who think I’m the most wonderful person in the world.

Here’s to little silver linings, wherever and whenever we may find them.

Categories
Life Nature

Almonds

Not long ago, we experienced some bizarre winter weather where I live – heavy snow and freezing temperatures that went on for the better part of a week. An unexpected outcome of that situation is that some of the plants and trees that don’t typically thrive in this area are now…thriving.

For example, we have an almond tree in our backyard. I didn’t know it was an almond tree, however, because it had never produced almonds.

A few years ago, during the spring blooming season, I thought it might be a peach tree. But after some research, I realized it’s an almond tree. I also resigned myself to the fact that it would be an almond tree in name only. We don’t usually have the type of sustained freezing cold weather that is necessary for almond production.

So you can imagine my happy surprise when I discovered that, this year, the tree is bursting with almonds. There are so many that some of the branches have started to dip from the weight. The limbs hang over part of our garden, creating a concentrated spot of shady coolness.

It’s likely that the almonds won’t be ready to harvest until August or September. Between the summer heat and the scurry of squirrels living in my backyard trees, I’m a bit concerned about how things will ultimately turn out. Hopefully, there will be a positive ending to this adventure. In the meantime, it’s fun to watch the almonds grow.

Here’s to Mother Nature. She sure knows how to keep things interesting.

Categories
Good People

Dance

Not long ago, I discovered Gurdeep Pandher and his merry dance videos. Mr. Pandher dances Bhangra, a traditional folk dance that originated in Punjab, India.

The videos are filmed in the Yukon, where Mr. Pandher lives. He dances outside, among the snow and wildlife and trees, highlighting the beauty of the area.

It’s impossible not to smile when watching the videos, not to want to join in and dance with him. They are full of hopeful energy, happy light and a cheerful spirit.

Each dance video includes a message of joy and positivity, dedicated to specific people, moments, or events. It’s his way of making a difference in the world, a heartfelt gift of delight and optimism.

Here’s to Gurdeep Pandher and the way he enthusiastically celebrates life. Sometimes, things are difficult. Not every day is a good one. But, he reminds me that there is almost always a reason to dance.

Categories
Good Nature

Beauty

It might end up being the only strawberry from this year’s backyard garden. Or else it could be the first of many.

Either way, it’s a beauty.

Here’s to early morning gifts and gardening achievements.

Categories
Life

Strands

I’m one of the fortunate ones who emerged from my COVID-19 experience with no serious long-term after effects. My sense of smell and taste still aren’t 100%, but otherwise, there haven’t been any symptoms reminding me that I’d been sick.

Until recently. In the last few weeks, my hair has started falling out.

It’s everywhere. In the sink, in the shower, on my pillow, on the floor. I find strands of it on my clothes and in the seat of my car. My hairbrush resembles a small, furry animal after a few days of use.

Thankfully, I haven’t found any bald spots. The loss, while steady, doesn’t involve clumps of hair. I doubt that it’s noticeable to anybody but me (and my husband, who patiently listens each time I complain about the situation).

I’ve read that this type of hair loss has happened to others. As with the loss of smell and taste, it doesn’t happen to everybody, but it’s common enough that I’m not panicking. I think – hope – that the shedding will stop soon, that it’s simply a temporary response to the weirdness of COVID-19 and its journey through my immune system.

In the meantime, I’m grateful for my general good health. I realize that, in the big picture, this is not that big of a deal. Eventually, it will just be one more of those things that I’ll remember when looking back on this bizarre time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go and sweep up this morning’s fallen strands.

Categories
Adventures Neato People

Stars

There’s no official birth certificate, but tradition has it that Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564.

It is certain that, today, April 23, 2021, in the wee hours of the morning, a SpaceX Falcon rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Four astronauts were onboard. They’ll spend the next six months working and living in the International Space Station.

Today’s launch represents the continued advancement of the partnership between NASA and privately-owned space flight companies. Among the achievements realized through this work is the development of a reusable rocket.

The rocket used in today’s launch is designed to return to Earth and land on a platform that is floating in the ocean. There won’t be a splashdown or broken bits and pieces falling into the sea. Instead, the intact rocket will gracefully touch down and will eventually be used once again on future launches.

Understandably, Shakespeare didn’t write about space flight. But he did write about doing things we think we cannot do, about imaginary worlds and seemingly impossible dreams. So perhaps there’s a little symmetry between his birthday and today’s space launch. A bit of a cosmic connection.

Men at some time are masters of their fates;
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2

Categories
Life

Audacity

Audacity is one of my favorite words.

I like the way it sounds. I like the way the letters look, sitting one next to the other, as they spell it out. I like what it means; the definition, the purpose of the word.

There’s risk in audacity. Audacity begins with the belief that what is isn’t necessarily what must be. Without the addition of wisdom and empathy, compassion and patience, it’s possible for audacity to take us into the land of entitlement, on a dark and dangerous path.

The positive potential of audacity, however, is glorious. Audacity is at the foundation of every human invention and discovery; every moment of what if and why not. It’s at the heart of every goal and every dream, even if they seem impossible in the here and now.

Audacity doesn’t promise success. But, every recipe for success includes at least a bit of audacity. Perhaps that’s why, this week and this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about the word and of all the promise it represents. And perhaps that’s why, waking up on this Earth Day morning, it was on my mind.

Here’s to you, audacity. Take us forward.