|Image from here.|
Zoetic. So poetic. The word apparently derives from science, from biology in particular: "pertaining to life."
It's a cell. The "smallest unit of life classified as a living thing" is zoetic. Any type of cell really. Any composition. Like bacteria. Or the soft hair of a newborn. Or the seed hidden, protected and waiting inside the pine tree's cone. It's potential. It's life.
Yet sometimes life, numbed by fatigue, can feel anything but alive.
But today made me pay attention to the zoetic.
Isn't it surprising what makes us feel most alive? It can be something as simple as the much-longed for life-sustaining sunlight on a belated spring day. Or even the opposite.
I think I was nine years old and my heart banged around in my chest like a rabbit trying to escape its cage. That day, along with my cousins and my friend Edwina (who really was my family too), we were fishing at Tobin Lake. Standing on a summer day in still water up to our waists, we weren't going to catch anything there. We were really only pretending. Our parents were on the beach, chatting, relaxing. I think Edwina let go of her fishing rod and started splashing us. We dodged her but remained where we were. Her splashing seemed half-hearted, silly but not really playful. Somehow strange. I remember thinking, she looks drunk like my Uncle Murray does when he wants to dance with my Mom. And then her head went under like being wiped off the counter top. I also remember thinking I should be doing something but what was I supposed to do with my fishing rod? My Dad told me never to let go of my fishing rod. Surfacing, Edwina coughed and laughed and spit and flapped and then I wondered if she had caught a fish. Or if she was becoming a fish? Some woozy mermaid. I turned to look at my parents. No one was coming. I felt blood rush to my head. I looked around. Stricken, my cousin Laurel stared back. Her eyes told me Edwina was drowning. Finally someone yelled and Edwina's father sauntered into the water. I still don't know what took him so long.
A juvenile diabetic, Edwina was having a seizure. The first of many which I would witness several times over the next decade.
And watching her struggle that day, I had never really felt more alive.
Zoetic. Paralyzed and watching near loss of life is oddly zoetic. I understand why now. I think I do. I think fear makes our cells rage. Adrenalin surges. Survival starts throwing punches. And the struggle, our own or others' reminds us to grasp the zoetic. And hold on. And live. Instead of just exist.