SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
A Rose’s Point of View: Zooplankton, Plants, and Souls
Queen’s Wharf, Wellington
Ship’s Heading & Speed
Wind from the Southeast, BF 3-4, overcast and occasionally drizzly.
First off, I'd like to say a huge I love you to a rather wonderful man named Brett Phinney, as this marks our two year anniversary. I still can't believe I was lucky enough to find you. I'm sorry we can't spend this day together, but know that I'm still loving you and missing you from the other side of the world.
Now, on to the blog post.
During my time on the Seamans and in New Zealand, I've found myself pondering the nature of souls (even more than usual-I've already solidified my belief that the universe is interconnected and may actually share some sort of consciousness). I initially gave some thought to this when I realized how much zooplankton we bring up in our neuston net, sacrificing their lives in the name of science. This upset me; I became a marine biologist to appreciate the beauty of ocean life. But as I stared down at the first sample I processed, I wondered how much some of the critters knew or cared that they were dying. I could see the crustaceans having qualms about being in a blue bucket, but what about the salps? Salps are gelatinous little grape-like buggers who are like jellies but don't even have stingers.
They are literally blobs. I asked Sophie H., "Do salps have souls?" She didn't have the answer. Maybe they just have very small, simple souls. Some people believe that if you are not a very good person, you become a lowly animal like a mosquito in your next life. If reincarnation is real, could you become a salp in your next life if you were a bad enough human? Could you work your way up to human if you were a very well-behaved salp (perhaps with a few species in between)? These are the thoughts I have when I'm on deck at 0300, hyped up on hot chocolate and counting salps. I still don't know how I feel about the neuston tows. They enable great research, but the number of lives I end when I throw the net into the water always saddens me.
Another thing I realized is that most trees in New Zealand must have souls. They just have to. They are so large, so majestic, reaching their branches up and out in great curving spirals. Their size, in my mind, reflects wisdom and strength. Whenever I pass by a particularly beautiful one I have the urge to wrap my arms around it and hum, perhaps drawing energy or wisdom from its roots. These trees have stood for an almost unfathomable amount of time, watching humanity pass by day after day, always changing. Wellington is home to a botanical garden, which I've explored in an attempt to reconnect with terrestrial nature. It's shocking to step out of the city into a little cable car, and in mere minutes find yourself amongst roses, secret gardens, well-worn footpaths, and towering redwoods (the first I've seen in my life-there was gasping and more urges to hug). These gardens sing with calm, yet vibrant energy. Are there more souls there than meet the eye?
If trees have souls, then why not roses too?