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We can try to understand life, but no matter what we think of life: it's what it is.

"Life" is a word to start with.
A writtenword is just a group of optical symbols that together have a specific sound when spoken as agreed upon. To communicate more than just a large variety of unique sounds, every word needs to have definition. The definition of a word connects it to a certain collection of shapes. We choose what we call life and what not. As soon as we hold on to a definition we made up, we lose contact with reality. But if you realize that, there's no problem. People need to call things names in order to navigate through this universe. So, what definition of life can we make up?
We usually define animals to be alive, and plants. Even the very small bacteria and alge get our "alive" label pinned on.
Death would be the everything thing that's not alive.
This word represents the opposite of life.
But does something really need to be dead OR alive, or can something be half-alive too, double-alive, or any other proportion?
We define as being dead; everything that is not living a biological life like we do. I think that's not really fair, like saying the universe turns around us. Arrogant.

Gray area
Is a virus dead or alive? And a prion? We don't like some virusses because these extremely small things can make us sick. They can't propagate themselves, they trick other more complex life forms to do that for them. On the other hand do they play part of the biological game, and every life form is depending on the right surrounding.

Without motion, everything would stand still, even what we call time would stand still.
But there is motion, thus everything -including life- moves like motion does. Understanding motion is understanding everything that happens.

Is life more than a game of motions?
That something would be something that: can't be sensed, can't be measured, can't be understand.. but is really here?!

Everybody that we consider alive, has DNA and the ability to "run" the DNA code. A tiny seed can, under the right circumstances, grow and become a great tree, a tree that can produces thousands, billions, of seeds. You'd think the secret of life equals DNA. But a random DNA strain will not become this tree. The amount of combinations that one strain DNA could be is astronomicaly high. The secret of DNA is not the DNA itself but the code it holds.

When I look at life, I see repetitions. All the leafs of one tree are unique, but they have a lot in common. In this one seed where a tree came from, was stored "how to build a leaf" probably only once. The differences that make each leaf unique rise while growing, caused by things that where not in the seed. Repetitions can be compressed really well, that's how come a seed can be so small. If all cells of a body would be truly unique, then it would be hard to compress, and the seed would have to be like 1/5 the size of a grown up. The strategy of making great numbers of seeds would then be impossible.

To grow from a seed to a great tree, the organism has to absorb and use many energy and matter from the surrounding. So, for something to grow, something else has to slink, for this universe is in balance (seems to be so). Stuff like water, food, air, sunlight, and warmth is stuff that can be taken, but people need knowledge also. Knowledge is non-stuff, a shape that can be duplicated.
Plands turn random organized matter & energy into parts of its living organism. Organisms that eat other organisms get food that is already made less random. The richer the food (meaning less random relative to the need), the less time/energy has to go into gathering food.

The solution for the loss of shape.
Be born, grow up, reproduce, care for the kids, and die. That's the basic story of being human. This is a solution for the problem of failure. The shape of everything that's in motion, slowly fals appart. The main everyday job for our body is to repair & balance itself so we stay in shape. If our body would do a slightly better job, we could live for ever. But sometimes people die of damage other than aging, so even then we would have to make new life: babies.
I find it a waste that people die of aging, and live a life in the loop. Where are we going? Nowhere special.

Feeling good and terrible, it's the emotions that drive our desisions. I don't understand emotions, but they are a fundamental part of life. We can build a machine, but we have to put rules in them, otherwise it doesn't have any motivaction for making choices. I don't know if all animals and plants have emotions, and I wonder if other shapes have emotions.

Is a snow flake a little bit alive?
Alive are animals and plants, even the very small bacteria and alge. Do we consider a virus to be alive? Sand we think of being dead. Are differences between sand and a plant equal to what we call life?
Could a non-biological body behaves be alive too? A snow flake grows very organized, it's not random motion, is it a little bit alive? Could it have emotions?

The circle of life
From birth to 'reproduction' to death. Every circle is similar to the previous one, but not exactly equal. That difference slowly leads to what we call evolution.

Beyond the circle of life
If we can spent less time and energy in staying alive, and start working together really well, the we can escape the loop, and progress towards the next level of life. High speed evolution.

Passing it on
The most important thing to do in life is to get children. There once was an island where all people really felt 'doing it' is absolutely disgusting. Nobody is living there any more.
In the beginning I was just a few cells, slowly grew up to the point where I could make many women pregnant, which I didn't, so I'm a dead end after millions of years of evolution... Next thing to do is to die.
But the circle of life is more than passing on DNA. Humans need a lot of knowledge to function well, but many knowledge is not part of the DNA, so especially children have to learn a lot. If I can't pass on my DNA, but I can give some positive knowledge to a next generation, than I guess that's OK too.

Being human
I don't always like being a biological human. I really hate it sometimes, not just because of my current situation, also because we as a whole don't do well and haven't chosen any interesting future. I tried bying something else, but that didn't work out! I seems that I and you have no choice other then to be what we are. My main goal is to feel oké or better. Playing the human game well is the best way to feel fine at this time. Who knows what will come after my shape gets the dead-definition, when my illusion of bying alive ends. I don't know.
Keeping my site online would keep me kind of alive, but not as a dynamic human with emotions.

Staying alive
There is this terrible disease that causes many people to die every day. It's called: aging. Getting really old and dying seems such a waste.
I would like to be 20 forever. If being 20 for a year is fine, then forever should be so too, having a young body and mind, being able to repair any damage.
There are some obvious troubles when not aging:
- How to prevent overpopulation?
- Your friends getting old, and dying of that.
- Not growing mentality
These would be my conditions; I do want to keep growing mentally, and not be the only one to stay young.

There's some time left
What do you want to do before you die? Anything special or pleasant? It's not necessary to do something extremely freaky, life is pretty freaking as it is anyhow, but as many (older people) say "life is short" and that the experience of time seems to go faster as you grow older. So, better start acting towards your wish now.

I would like to see a website where every older person (65+) may write a personal story about whatever. It's a shame that most if not all knowledge of people who die is lost. The great lessons of life or just a good riddle or joke, whatever you like.

Have a nice day

Giesbert Nijhuis