A Creative and Meaningful Life


Biology is built on the model of the seed. The collection of relationships that define each variety of biological life is housed in the seed and echoed through the generations. Anything novel added to the collection of relationships that also adds value is first embraced, then replicated. Over time, only that which contributes to being able to relate successfully to the environment is remembered and practiced. That which does not offer sustained value, eventually, and sometimes suddenly, fades to extinction. Sometimes extinction carries a whole community of relationships, that was otherwise valuable, to destruction.

If we define “creative” as something both new and useful; something that enables a valuable insight or behavior, that was not possible before, we can then use this working definition to see biology as a mechanism for the capture and preservation of creativity. The relationships that define biology as it stands today are a living chronicle of the collected acts of adaptive creativity. They are those collections of relationships that enable us to successfully navigate the shifting tides of environment.

Some of the values of these creative relationships are emerging, some fading from disuse because they no longer serve. Still others are being morphed or built upon to increase our capacity to sustainably navigate the environment. The value of individual traits stems from well they contribute to the whole community of relationships.

Acting as a contributor to the community of relationships that nourishes and sustains life is the definition of a creative and meaningful life. To cultivate some valuable behavior, insight or experience and share it with the whole community of life is the means by which we leave a lasting impression in the wake of our passing. This is the way we can sow lasting seeds.

This is the principle of the seed – the same way we can count the seeds in an apple but we cannot count the apples in a seed, we can count the actions we take to contribute to life, but we cannot count the life in our actions when they offer something of lasting value.


4 responses to “A Creative and Meaningful Life

  1. “Everything we try to keep to and for ourselves alone is lost.”
    You are talking about what anthropologists call “cultural transmission” here, and you make an excellent case for altruism over selfishness, on an evolutionary level. Social animals have the potential to grow as a species through passing on acquired knowledge. If the knowledge is not passed on, it may give the individual who has it a sense of pride and power, but it cannot contribute to the species’ growth. Great post.

    • Thank you. On sociality, I tend to think E.O Wilson is on to something when he talks about the human tendency toward eusocial; that our particular brand of hyper cooperation (in comparison to other animal behavior strategies) including cultural intelligence formed in large part out of adversity; i.e. sparse food and harsh unpredictable climate conditions, etc. and now greatly increases our adaptive range as a result, but it does carry an unfortunate artifact in that we may now become victims of our own success.
      As near as I can tell, this inward focused cooperative aspect among humans that has enabled so much adaptive range is now a negative adaptive trait in it’s currently unthrottled form. Since we now have the capacity to dominate so effectively we may actually be killing the golden goose that feeds us. This is why I promote the notion that the body of life extends past our own biology, and that socializing ourselves around this broader biological axiom is the source of a sustained future. We need to see earth as our nest, not our local environment as our nest. We need to move from a “dominate” to a “cultivate” paradigm. IMO

  2. Other species have surely in the past contributed to their own extinction by being too “successful.” Ultimately, it’s not adaptive to foul your nest to the point where you can’t live in it. Hopefully we’re smart enough to see that and modify our behavior. I read somewhere recently that the birthrate in the US dipped below replacement level in the aftermath of the recession. That’s an astonishing adjustment of behavior based on a perception of diminished resources (in this case financial resources, but environmental degradation will ultimately hit our pocketbooks.)

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