In Literature Appetizer, Ben gives you just a taste of a book. Not meant to replace the full meal, this is meant to whet your appetite. Bon appetit!
Do you remember the first time you looked up at the stars, and began to think about the magnitude of the universe? When it clicked for the first time that those little dots are actually stars like our sun, with their own little solar systems? The scale of everything is thrown right out at that point. It didn't matter that someone cut you off in traffic or you spilled coffee on yourself: this universe is far greater.
I Contain Multitudes by Ed Young brought about that magnitude of a change of world view in me, except in the opposite direction.
I'm sure you have heard of 'good and bad' bacteria. You wash your hands to get rid of germs, and have been doing so since elementary school. But take a moment and gaze not to the heavens, but at your own body. Your hands right now are covered with living organisms. Dive millimeters deep into your fingers and the types of microbial residents change completely. For each part of your body, there is a unique microbial ecosystem.
As an Environmental Educator, it is my job to introduce people to the complexity of ecosystems. A systems thinking approach makes learners juggle many variables at the same time. Not only do you have to be thinking about the geology and hydrology of a place, but also at the very least biology and anthropology. Places are shaped by so many factors that it can get overwhelming. I personally love to learn about the connects in environments. With complexity brings beauty.
But microbes take that to a completely different level. If you removed all the field mice from an ecosystem, it would be completely different. Sure, it might take you a few weeks to notice anything but the ecosystem would be altered for decades at least. The same goes with our microbes. I, myself, am more than just me. Without the multitudes within me, I would not be able to function. My multitudes provide essential services that without I would die.
Since this is just an appetizer of the book, one last thing. When we come into contact with any other organism, we are co-mixing our ecosystems. As impactful as the land bridge was for North America thousands of years ago, that happens to each of us thousands of times a day! Pets not only bring joy into our lives, but also create more bio-diverse ecosystems within ourselves.
There are so much more that I want to share, but I don't want to spoil your appetite. Next time you take a bite or touch something, remember that you are more than just you: you contain multitudes.