I was talking with a robin sitting and singing on the rose above the wall (‘defending territory’, say the textbooks). ‘What are you going to do next?’ I asked him, before wondering if the idea of a plan had any meaning for him.
There was the cotoneaster beside me, and the daphne, the clematis and the rose. The pale buds of the white-flowering currant are just starting to swell. Every plant, every being is getting on with being; its next move, its development and its destiny, already ordained in its DNA. It is not wanting, or planning; it’s just living.
Accidents of all sorts will influence and determine its fate, but the blueprint is set in its cells. I still find it impossible to envision how the nucleus of every cell that make up the entirety of every living thing, from an ant’s toenails to a giant sequoia, has its destiny. Being alive is following this plan, of growth, of reaction and adaption to light (its strength and its sources), to moisture and nutrients, to stress of whatever kind. Every cell divides, and every separate divided cell carries the same instructions, is relevant to its role: to be a petal or to be skin or bone. The cell that grew to be part of a strand of wool on a sheep’s back is now living on, or rather existing on, with its life force cut off, as a thread in a sweater or a blanket. It will disintegrate with age, or wear out, or perhaps be destroyed by fire, but while it lives it follows its original plan.
The robin came down to earth just beside me.