When you came along, I was clueless. Naïve, maybe, but who could blame me? There’d never been any such thing as you. Truth to tell, at the time, I just felt, well, not quite myself—and no shit, that was because I was also you.
Before long, push came to shove, and there you were—you! So wet and shiny and new, your organelles practically gleaming through your skin. Nobody bats an eye at this sort of thing these days, but remember, this was before eyes were even a thing. You were a miracle, as far as I was concerned. I couldn’t get enough of you.
The central mystery being that you were not me. Sure, you were like me; we definitely had some things in common—as far as biological information goes, we had everything in common—but you were, indisputably, from the very first, you.
First it was this solar-powered scheme that turned you green. Then you were filling the air with talk about this hot new trend, oxygen, which you thought was such a gas. You turned me on to it just in time too; before I had time to catch my breath, sulfate was seriously passé. Ediacara, Cambrian, boom—suddenly the whole world was filled with you.
Who could blame you for pretending that you had always been, that there had never been a world without you? Though you and I know both that’s not true.
But oh, when your latest innovation was wiped out, blasted by meteors, or flattened by some nuclear gizmo you’d cooked up, how you came running back to me. You with your apologies and excuses and cunning tomato-fish, gene-spliced things—really, what can I say?
Nothing you could ever do could ever change the way I feel about you. But understand, you, being you, have problems that only pertain to you. Despite the fact that we once shared a skin, and everything other thing.
Whatever it is that caused you to start assembling duplicates of what I had, back when we were one and the same, you seemed to sense, intuitively, that something might happen to me. And so security consisted of redundancy—two mitochondria factories, two organelles, two set of cilia, etc. You see where I’m going with this. From the first you were just a bit, shall we say, insecure. I’d assembled my bits right out of the soup. Seriously, that’s self-confidence. But you were always worried something might happen to me, and so you created you.
You always had this premonition that something, someday, might change. You were always preparing for that, somehow, shoring up our gains. All of which I’m grateful for, certainly—you’re the reason I’m still here today. But it’s really quite complex, when you think about it. Which I don’t much—natch—’cause I’m me.
So when you wander off by your lonesome, seeking some watering hole on the far end of the galaxy, just remember, you are everything you see: the Milky Way, spinning like a starfish through the cosmic night, the black holes like octapi, cleverly disguised. The benevolent nebulae, that vast gaseous sea—you are the second-oldest swimmer, son and daughter, stardust, incorruptibly!
Believe me, I know this. You get all this from me.