Here’s a weird story:
Once there was a giant ball of stardust. A crust formed over its molten iron core.
Some stuff started happening on that crust. The elements were just right for interesting combinations of molecules. They started to move on their own, looking for other molecules to bind to, absorb, or use (like tools).
A long time later, all of those molecules had created a ton of gas that had filled the vacuum around the ball of molten iron. An interaction with solar energy made a thin film at the top of the gas, which held it in place.
When there was enough of that gas to seem useful, a combination of molecules formed that used this gas to pump energy into itself. They began “using” that gas as a “tool.”
This strategy turned out to be a good one. It made a lot more energy a lot more quickly. The new combo was faster, more able…it began to replicate. It began to grow, morph, adapt to new environments.
Within it still carried The Old Way. The non-gas way.
Here’s Another Story
First there were the Stone Giants. They ruled the earth.
Then the gods came down from Heaven (maybe on a chariot of sunlight, or a lightning bolt), and conquered those stone giants.
When they fought, the stone giants splintered apart, and part of them embedded itself in the gods. It could not be removed.
Or How About This One (my favorite)…
When people are native to a place, they have literally sprung up from the earth in that place.
We call them, Autochthonous.
“By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
All of these stories tell the same tale – that humans come from stardust first, and dirt, second…and that the mechanics of “dirt” still occupy the core of our being. (Did I forget to mention that the center of the heme molecule is an atom of iron?).
In exercise physiology we rely heavily on these stories. The “Old Way” is the anaerobic way. The first way of “life” on this planet. The “New Way” is aerobic – more efficient. But we rely heavily on the anaerobic way (those of us who do things…). An “animal” is simply an oxygen pump.
Why is it important?
It can be a useful distinction, but only as long as remain aware that it is an arbitrary one.
This may be the last prejudice that the human animal will have to overcome, because it’s a hard one – there is no difference between an “animal” and “inorganic” material.
The difference is one that we’ve ascribed ourselves. So of course it puts us in a “higher” position. But does a stone “use” water to degrade itself and leach its components into the soil, enriching the soil, which is then taken up by a plant that incorporates those elements, which in turn is eaten by an animal which incorporates those elements, which in turn dies and degrades, and is reincorporated by the stone (whose “blood” is called “time” and whose “movement” is called “pressure”)?
Does it do that?
Reminds me of a song: