The Mutant Enzyme

He was 8 years old, and he was running away from home, from an environment that he saw, or saw him, as alien.

I ran away from home when I was 5. My ever-so-polite Mother offered to pack my suitcase. I didn't want her etiquette-filled valise. I wanted to hear how devastated she would be if I left.

There is a home that none of us can run away from, the gen(h)ome. Mine has a number - 230800 - which may well date back 400,000 years when light and matter were only beginning to separate from each other. There are only 10,000 cases of 230800 in the United States.

This is apparently one of those genes that has not changed very much since the primeval ooze, one that was there when my progenitors were more like worms than mammals. It turns out that no matter where I run, I carry some pretty exotic luggage myself in the form of a mutant enzyme.

I am reminded of Matt Ridley's words in "Genome" - "Wherever you go in the world, whatever animal, plant, bug or blob you look at, if it is alive, it will use the same dictionary and know the same code. All life is one." (1)

I want to tell the 8-year-old that, as Ridley says, "Seaweed is your distant cousin and anthrax one of your advanced relatives."

I want to tell him that astronomers have recorded a flicker of light from nearly 14 billion years ago.

I want to tell him that he needn't run away; that the beauty of all creation is within himself and he has his place in this world as we all do. As even my mutant enzyme does.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2020/2021

(1) genome.

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