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Ryan Griffin's Blog

What we owe to the universe

One of my favourite desserts growing up was Airplane Jelly. They nailed their marketing, at least for the kids. The first time I saw the Airplane Jelly Tiger Moth undertaking some aeronautical mastery I was hooked. I was very quick to conclude that the jelly being advertised was the reason the plane could do what it did. At least my all too human causation desire working well! So, I had to try it.

The enjoyment of the jelly was not just limited to eating a bowl following dinner but everything needed to get it to the table. Clicking the perforations of the Yellow Tiger Moth box, learning to boil and pour the kettle, knowing when the crystals had fully dissolved, sampling liquefied jelly from the mixing fork, not letting the glad-wrap double over before it had covered the bowl and pulling something out of the fridge which had transformed into something else were all part of the satisfaction. Eating the jelly was only a small part of having it.

I never became the master of the skies that I thought the ad promised but being part of the transformation from crunchy, pale pink crystals in a box to a deep red, gelatinous dessert taught me a lot about how things change. The neurologist, Professor Steven Novella describes everyone having "3 pounds of a grey jelly sitting inside our skull". This jelly is made up of about 100 million neurons and a tonne of other supporting cells to modulate them. It comes together as an organ that can think, that can feel, that forms consciousness and the whole world around us. It is the most complicated organ in our bodies and thing in our known universe. And we all have it.

We owe it to ourselves to do what we can to guide the transformation of our own bit of jelly. Shifting it from a small collection of unordered nodes to a deep web of interwoven strands is to have it.

And if not for ourselves then for the universe.

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