Just like there is no ocean wave without water, there is no you without food. Imagine that you are, in fact, a wave—an ocean wave named Bob. To continue to exist as a wave, you would need a continuous supply of water—constantly new water as you advance across the ocean. An ocean wave that runs out of water dies. The fascinating thing is this: here you are, an ocean wave named Bob, made entirely of water, but of ever-new water. As you realize this, you ponder, “If I started way back out there, made of that water, and now I am rolling toward the shore made of entirely different water, then who have I been throughout? If all I am is water, but never the same water, who the hell am I?” And then you remember: “Oh, right; I’m a wave named Bob.”
“A wave named Bob” isn’t just a metaphor. We are waves. According to science writer and theorist Dorion Sagan, “life is a wave” (1990, 25):
With each breath you take, each bead of sweat that evaporates from your skin, or each scone that you consume you replace chemical constituents in your body. In no two consecutive moments are you or any other life form composed of exactly the same particles… Tracking the flow of the matter of life guarantees that now in your body are atoms that once grew in the tree of Buddha, soiled the clothes of Jesus, and reflected as the eye of Picasso. As with the continuous recycling of water in the ocean to make waves, the pool of chemical elements from which we are made is finite. Matter, especially living matter, cycles.
So as you sit down for your next meal, ask yourself, “Who am I? Who is this?” And recognize that you are a wave of eating.
Adapted from Reinventing the Meal (Somov, 2012)
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Last reviewed: 25 Aug 2013