When I was a little girl, I remember my mother exclaiming in frustration that something (probably me) had caused her to lose her train of thought.
I took her literally, as children do, and pictured an actual choo-choo train carrying her thoughts away from her.
I love it when I read something that causes me to think about one topic, which leads to thoughts on a related topic, which leads to another, and another, and so forth. The final subject may have very little to do with the initial one. A whisper-down-the-line game for my brain, if you will.
I still picture these linear thoughts as a train. The first thought, the engine, is linked to the second, the boxcar, but not to the final one, the caboose. The more boxcars there are, the greater the distance between the locomotive and the caboose.
Let me give you an example.
I have an obsession with octopuses. Yes, the plural of octopus is octopuses, not octopi. An article about any octopus-related topic will attract my attention.
A few months ago, I read that octopuses adapt to their environment by editing their RNA.
“That’s weird,” I thought. Most animals adapt to their environment through mutations to their DNA.
DNA is kind of like the recipe for producing proteins that keep an organism alive. RNA is like the chef. DNA gives the RNA instructions, and RNA carries them out.
Occasionally RNA, the chef, goes rogue. It improvises and doesn’t precisely follow the recipe. This is called RNA editing. Just like when a chef improvises in the kitchen, sometimes you get a delicious new stew. Many times, you wind up with a smoking-hot mess.
For this reason, most animals don’t use an RNA editing strategy. It is typically chaotic, unorganized, and often causes more problems than it’s worth. Modern-day animals follow the recipe for the most part.
Octopuses, apparently, didn’t get the memo.
Coronaviruses are RNA viruses. That means they consist of a single strand of RNA wrapped up burrito-style in proteins.
These tiny burritos invade our cells and hijack some cell components to make copies of themselves. These copies infect other cells, and the virus spreads.
Using the recipe/chef analogy from above, when RNA makes copies of itself, it’s like copying a recipe over and over. By hand.
The problem is, RNA is not a good speller. It sometimes writes “flour” as “flower“, “butter” as “butterfly“, and “milk” as “sdfghj“. (DNA does the same thing, except it uses the molecular version of Grammarly and spell-check.)
When the recipe is incorrect, the virus mutates. That is why we are now hearing about different strains of the virus infecting our populations. RNA-driven mutations have caused the virus to use flowers in the stew instead of flour, so to speak.
This means that the entire impressive panoply of living organisms depends either on the slight errors that occur when the recipe is copied or wild improvisations made by the chef.
If each one of these actions happened perfectly every time, you wouldn’t be here. Neither would I. Neither would elephants, or pine trees, or earthworms, or violets. Or octopuses.
But maybe there is another way to look at the whole process.
Maybe the recipe is perfect every time. Maybe the Chef doesn’t make mistakes. Maybe it’s us who can’t read the recipe or understand the Chef’s ultimate plan.
Maybe, just maybe, everything is humming along exactly the way it is supposed to, warts, mildew, blemishes, and all.
Maybe it is not our role to judge what is perfect, but to sit back, relax, and enjoy the whole shebang.
Maybe everything is beautiful just the way it is.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”- Ecclesiastes 3:11
You can find the places I link up here.