Just read a fascinating article in the NYT about living plants being grown from the fruit of a 32,000 year-old flower. Just for context, the previous record for oldest DNA to yield a live plant was 2,000 years. Scientists are still double-, triple- and quadruple-checking to see whether this is for real, but so far it looks good.
The plant, a kind of campion, is very similar to the present-day version. Looking at the
picture that accompanied the article, I was struck by how unassuming and even fragile it looks.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the sheer power and insistence of life. I was walking outside with my husband last weekend, and I suddenly thought: Anything could kill us; yet here we are. Before you start worrying that I’m in the grip of morbid fantasy, let me explain myself. I simply felt, at that moment, how tender the human body is, how easily destroyed. A tree, a car, a fall the wrong way, a loose power line – let alone someone or something actually trying to kill you – and it’s over; a body so compromised that it no longer supports life.
And given that, how truly amazing it is that I (and you, and all of us) are alive. That healthy babies are born, grow up, and live to be 30, 70 or 90.
It gives me joy. This will toward sentience and continuation is so strong: thirty-thousand-year-old viable DNA; my 15-month-old granddaughter blooming fresh and full of life; me happy and vital and still growing at 60 – it’s all a testament to the power of life itself.
It’s easy to overlook – but it’s worth celebrating and feeling grateful for, every day.