Saturday, September 29, 2012

Exchanging Matter With the Universe

Dear readers and writers,

I watched a commercial on TV by accident today and it showed a man made of money, constantly losing dollars as he steered a boat across a lake.  It reminded me of something we don't think about very often.  When we touch things, we leave some of our molecules behind and pick up some of the molecules of the object we felt.  We exchange matter.  Seeing doesn't do that, but touching does.  You leave a sort of calling card and pick up evidence of where you've been.  You aren't exactly the same person as you were before you ran your hand along that rounded stair banister or shining oak table.

I like that idea a lot because it means we're connected with the things around us.  All we have to do is reach out and touch something and we merge with it in a micro way.  I don't know if you've ever touched a butterfly or moth and had a few scales from its wings come off on your fingers.  I had that experience as a child and thought it was pixie dust.  It does look magical, colors beyond what our clothes dyers can produce, shiny and dusty at the same time.  But you've left something for the moth or butterfly, it's just less gorgeous.  Some DNA, some skin cells, collagen, a bit of lipid.

What it really reminds me of is potlatch, the party given by Native Americans in the Vancouver area at which you bring a gift, give it, and take something away with you.  A sort of gift exchange.  I think it would be good for us to become more conscious that this is the way we interact with the universe.

Some exchanges are not equal over time.  I think of the hollows in old stone steps, where many feet have taken a few molecules each time until there's a bite out of the stone.  If we didn't wear shoes, would our molecules have filled in those gaps?

Photo credit : Wikipedia/Creative Commons with thanks.


Anonymous said...

Hi Laura,
I love the wierd ideas you get every so often. Kind of sciency, kind of philosophical, wholly offbeat. Keep us guessing!

Marianna W

SharonW said...

A strange strange thing I've noticed (especially since lately I've been reorganizing and weeding out books) is that similar things stick together if they're left undisturbed long enough - specifically, perfectly clean paperback books will bond to each other. Are they swapping atoms? Maybe.

I don't think we would fill inhollowed out steps with molecules from bare feet, though - but only because our foot molecules would blow or wash away. (Just like molecules from our shoe soles probably do.)

What an unexpected world we live in, Laura, leaving bits and pieces behind us everywhere we go, and picking up odds and ends of everything else...