I’m reading Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier, science writer for the NY Times. In short, it’s fabulous.
This passage from the chapter “One Perfect Solar Cell,” about eggs, struck me. She’s discussing the millions of eggs that don’t make it to even menstruation, that perish in apoptosis for whatever reason:
“For our purposes… let us praise the dying hordes and lubricate their departure with tears of gratitude. Yes, it’s wasteful, yes, it seems stupid to make so much and then immediately destroy nearly all of it, but would nature get anywhere if she were stingy? Would we expect to see her flagrant diversity, her blowsy sequins and feather boas, if she weren’t simply and reliably too much? Think of it this way: without the unchosen, there can be no choosing. Unless we break eggs, there can be no souffle. The eggs that survive the streamlining process could well be the tastiest ones in the nest.”
Here’s why it struck me. I’ve long been a conservationist – in the retarded, nitpicky sense. Conservation sometimes consumes me – makes me agonize over eating leftovers and write to do lists in margins of old letters.
This passage, in an eggshell, is telling me that it’s okay, worth it and productive to be flamboyantly wasteful sometimes.
That that bit of prose I wrote is worth the innumerous crumples of miswritings before it.
That my perfected signature dish is worth the burned, watery, overspiced versions that were tossed.
Work is work. Things don’t always work out. Sometimes you have to start over, start anew – and that means destroying to create.
All is not lost, all is not wasted.
Life is, in a sense, wasteful, and there’s nothing I can do about that, really.
So I can breathe a sigh of relief. My life is going to have some waste. It’s biologically determined. And it’s worth it.
Angier ends the passage with this:
“We are all yeses. We are worthy enough, we passed inspection, we survived the great fetal extinctions. In that sense, at least, we are meant to be. We are good eggs, every one of us.”
Ahhhh. Who knew talk of scientific reproduction could be so heartwarming?