Image by _Tawcan via Flickr
I went to the gents before and noticed that the elastic on my Calvin Klein's had lost a lot of its ping. They’re oldish jocks so it’s no great surprise. Still as I stood there I contemplated the process by which elastic perishes over time. Is it use or is it simply age? Well, I thought, frequent use will obviously accelerate the process, but largely it is process of time. Over time the elastic will dry and deteriorate all by itself whether the jocks are worn every day or never worn. Like everything else it ages and, short of keeping your jocks in a vacuum, there’s not much you can do about it.
Naturally my thoughts followed onto other materials. Steel won’t perish, but exposed to the elements it will rust. Even concrete is subject to its own particular form of cancer, notwithstanding how it will weather and crumble in any case. It shouldn’t be a surprise, everything declines with time.
Even trees? I wondered at that. There are trees that have been around hundreds, even thousands of years. Is there a natural end to them? Is there a time when they shrivel and die? I thought probably yes, though clearly on a much different time frame to us.
The difference with trees of course is that they are organic. They grow, they blossom and flower, and they regenerate of their own accord. In some way so do we. Our DNA dictates how tall we will grow and what colour our eyes will be; we will inherit traits and potentially diseases. We will grow to a certain point and then stop growing; for a while we will remain in a kind of physical stasis before the inevitable decline begins. One day the decline becomes so much that we fail altogether. And so the process begins again.
Why is this so really? Why should a tree last ten longer than a man? Why does a man outlive a dog or cat or indeed most animals? What is the genetic trigger in our make-up that makes these accepted facts?
It’s odd the things that occur to you standing in a urinal.
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