Metamorphosis.

In the ocean off the coast of Antarctica, a snail lives around scorching hydrothermal vents. Its name is Gigantopelta chessoia. From the outside, it looks like any other shelled slug. But on the inside, something strange is happening, scientists report in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, like no metamorphosis ever observed in any other animal on the planet.

Once the snail reaches a certain body length, its digestive system stops growing. Its teeth, stomach and intestine make way for an expanding esophageal gland. The organ gets so big, it takes up most of the snail’s body, and basically becomes a new organ. Bacteria colonize it, and the snail, which grazed for food when it was smaller, no longer needs to eat. Instead it just sits there getting bigger, surviving on energy the bacteria produces inside the snail’s cells.

To make a human comparison, imagine growing from an average size adult to one 30 to 60 feet tall, with a giant sac of bacteria living inside you.

Not all animals eat. Some shallow water corals, for example, have algae living inside their tissues that take in sunlight and convert it to energy that provides the corals with nutrients. In the deep sea, there is no sun, but vents provide chemicals that bacteria break down. This is the basis of the deep-sea food chain. Gigantopelta chessoia, instead of algae, have bacteria living in some of their cells that convert hydrogen sulfide and oxygen the snails absorb from the vents into energy. (1)

It seems incredible.

But this is what happens to us as well.

Not with our body.

But with our mind.

We “eat” spiritually in our first four years of life.

And then we are set to go. Equipped with all we need.

Our beliefs…

Our prejudices…

Our character…

We are set up from our parents from our early years. And from that point onwards we never look back. We are bound by the things we do not think that bounds us.

Watch that baby grow.

Watch her go to school.

Watch her making friends.

Watch her driving for the first time.

She never left your arms…

She is still there…

Crying…

Smiling…

Hugging you…

Don’t be afraid to die.

Please dad don’t die!

You are not alone…

Smiling…

Mother! Don’t die!

She is calm now.

Remembering her dad…

Smiling…

Giving him that perfect little kiss on his nose…

And between those crying eyes…

The sweet fire of existence starts raging…

Noli timere…

One last spaghetti…

He had just come back from the funeral. His mother had just died. She was his most beloved person. She had taken care of him for so many years, raised him, she… his eyes wet, started crying again. From a small child he had been pondering on the possibility (it was just a… possibility back then) of his parents dying. And whenever he thought about it, his mother always came and reassured him that everything will be OK… But today she wasn’t there. She would not be there anymore. Not now. Not ever again. And that “Never” really made his heart ache. It was that sense of security that he missed the most. A person who loved him so much that would do anything just to make him feel better. He felt good around her. Now he felt void.

With heavy feet he opened the door. Entered the lounge, then went slowly into the kitchen. He hadn’t eaten since the previous day. Since he heard the bad news… He thought eating was an insult to his mother. He could not put anything into his mouth after her death. But now biology came to overcome his will. He had to eat something. Mechanically and unwillingly he opened the fridge trying to find something editable. He opened the door and saw a plate of spaghetti. Tears started pouring from his eyes. Tears he couldn’t stop. It was the food his mother made for him yesterday just before she died. Ready as he liked it. He couldn’t even see the plate with his blurred eyes. Took it. Placed it on the table. Started eating it. Slowly. Each time he ate, he remembered of his mother preparing it. He cried even more. Every bite brought more sadness to his heart. The sauce. As he preferred it. With a lot of vinegar as he liked it. Another bite. And another. He kept on crying while finishing his food. She had even put extra chesses as she only knew he liked it. And another bite. The food was getting less and less. The last meal from his mother. He ate it but at the same time wanted to leave it as it is. It was the last thing he had from her. Another bite. Every time he felt so pleased from the excellent food, he also remembered of who prepared it and the pleasure went away instantly. Tears again. Mechanically he ate it all. When he was a kid, he would always ask for more. And she would – with all her love – give him more. Smiling.

He fell sleepy. Slowly he bent over the table and laid his head on it. His eyes closed and he dreamed of the only thing that would make his soul pleased. Another plate of spaghetti with cheese… And in his sleep, just for a fleeting moment, he smiled…

Spiros Kakos

02/2013 –  Athens, Greece

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