Today's Word: Symbiotic
Four syllables. Pronounced [sim-bahy-ot-ik]. adjective. Defined on Dictionary.com as “living in symbiosis, or having an interdependent relationship.”
I’m currently reading a book called Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers, and Why They Matter. After telling some friends that I was reading this book they consoled me and offered some ideas about how to relieve my boredom. Undaunted, I told them I wasn’t bored. This is just the kind of book I find interesting.
Did you know that beavers could reduce wildfires and help stop the droughts that plague the west? I didn’t, but I do now. My family and friends know what’s coming when I’m pulling up photos to show them - “Look! Look here at Susie Creek. Notice the changes that have occurred since the introduction of beavers! Where are you going? This is fascinating!” They’ve grown accustomed to hearing about whatever book I’m reading at the time.
“Caffeine had a crazy impact on the French Revolution.”
“King Leopold . . . what a terrible human he was.”
“So people are wary of AI but what we really need to monitor are algorithms.”
From Eager, I learned about the symbiotic relationship between beavers, elk, wolves, and salmon. When humans alter one or more of the parts of an ecosystem, the system falls out of balance. Repairing that imbalance is usually possible, but often costly. For example, since 2006 bats have been combating diseases including White-Nose Syndrome. It is really easy to say, “Bats are gross. They freak me out. Who cares if they all die.” BUT Bats save farmers billions of dollars each year by eliminating pests. Farmers would spend significantly more on pesticides if bats were eliminated. (Not to mention the impact of increased pesticides on the food system.) Bats also feast on bugs which controls the insect population and act as pollinators. So why should you care about bats? Because they fix a problem (insects/pollination) that you didn’t know you needed fixing.
Generally, I thought of the word symbiotic in a scientific manner - organisms need each other to survive - but after spending over a month in quarantine I’ve realized that symbiotic is much more. As an introvert, I am perfectly happy to stay home and spend time alone. My biggest struggle at the beginning of quarantine wasn’t being apart from people. It was that Logan and Jason were both home and I couldn’t be more alone. Now we are settling into a pattern of me spending time reading while Jason and Logan connect with friends via technology. I stay connected with people via texts, emails, phone calls, and Zoom. Then we come back together for cooking and games. Something that has become painfully obvious to our household, as well as the rest of the world, is the symbiotic relationships we are part of that are currently missing from our lives. Logan worked out a lot of his angst at school while chasing friends, messing around in the halls, and moving around the school with his people. Walking alone outside during “forced outside time” doesn’t provide the same kind of effect. We’re seeing a similar breakdown of relationships causing fallout in the economic sector.
We have a symbiotic relationship with each other that so many of us, including me, took for granted. Until now. If you are sad and tired of being alone, that’s okay. It’s okay to be sad that you feel alone. In fact, being alone was the first thing that God said wasn’t good about His creation. Check out this passage from Genesis 2.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam, no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
As a child, I wondered how long it took for Adam to feel alone. I thought it must have been a very long time because he had all of Eden to explore, he named the animals, he talked to God, but then when I saw that God made Adam AND Eve on day six I realized that Adam had been lonely after less than ONE day. I’ll save any comments about men needing women and just point out that we weren’t supposed to be alone. When Adam is introduced to Eve he breaks out in verse and gives us the first lines of poetry ever spoken. If you are looking forward to celebrating with others when this is over that is exactly the way God created you to feel. Connected.
I hope that this time of quarantine has helped you focus more on those with whom you have a symbiotic relationship. I know I have realized how much I like sitting around people even if I don’t like being at loud parties. I’ve realized how much encouragement I get from seeing my kids laugh and talk together. I’ve realized the great pleasure I took in deep conversations over coffee or dinner with friends. This too shall pass but I hope the lessons I’ve learned don’t.
(Overdramatic title? I think not.)
How have you been spending your quarantine? My time is spent urging Logan to focus on his schoolwork and attending to the various and sundry things that need to be done. My time spent working in the kitchen has increased, which has been good. Despite all this activity, I’ve been struggling. I’ve realized that I use not having time as an excuse to do things that I just don’t want to do. I have laundry piled up, but it’s not getting done and that is no fault of not having time. My attitude fluctuates between “I love staying home!” to “Let’s just get through this,” to, “I’m going to throttle someone.” It’s hard to focus on anything with Jason working downstairs and Logan trying to work at his desk. The teachers have done an incredible job of creating online curriculum and hosting Zoom meetings to keep the kids connected. I’m trying to be a good mom by watching Logan, refocusing his attention when needed, and assisting him when it is necessary, yet at the end of the day I feel drained and I haven’t even done anything. I’m trying to have some creative outlets, like making YouTube videos and writing, but I feel like my thoughts are experiencing a traffic jam inside my head. I’m not much for talking on the phone rather, I love deep conversations shared over coffee or tea. Digital meetups are good, but they just aren’t the same. My INFP brain wants to be home alone and be in deep conversations and be teaching a class all at the same time. My heart also aches for all those struggling with sickness, loss of job or income, fear, and loneliness. I feel the burdens of others with such intensity it physically hurts. Then I look to God who is in control. I look to God who literally laid the burden of sin on His only Son to pay the debt for my sin. I look to Christ who has conquered death and offers me life in Him. Deep breath. One day at a time. One activity at a time.
When my brain starts to get wacky and my thoughts run off into the realm of “what ifs” I’ve learned the best thing I can do is investigate. A love of reading and a wealth of curiosity have made my life richer. When I lose my mind in frustration over my circumstances, I turn to God’s Word where I can find truth about who God is and what He asks of me. When I become concerned about the government I can research the law and take action by writing those who represent me. When I need a new recipe because I’ve cooked everything I know how to make twice, I turn to cookbooks and blogs with exciting new ideas that will satisfy our family. What do I need to make all this possible? Reading.
I know that many people see reading as a thing nerds do or as an exercise in academic drudgery. This. Breaks. My. Heart. If you are in the crowd that could leave reading for the educational elite or for the nerdy oddballs, let me argue that reading is so much more than boring stories and droll information. Reading also takes place using cookbooks, novels, non-fiction books, articles, trade publications, etc. In the classroom, whether it was my own or another teacher I was subbing for, I often heard the statement, “Why do we have to read? It’s so stupid!” I want to note that while it is important for students to read the textbooks assigned to them for online classes, textbooks are not what I am talking about when I talk about reading. Interesting books, that take the reader on an adventure throughout space and time, abound and offer insights that will give new depts of understanding not previously experienced. The more you read the better you become at reading. The better you are at reading and decoding information the better you will be at life. Okay. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but maybe not. Let me lay out three ways that reading will change your life and the lives of those in your care.
I hope this helped. Sometimes I get discouraged about writing and posting. I see so much amazing content out there and wonder if my voice is really needed, but I truly enjoy the challenge of posting and writing. Thank you for reading and learning with me.
Below I’ve posted a YouTube video I made about reading to children. In the first half, I read one of my favorite books and in the second half, I talk about some strategies that parents can use to boost reading comprehension when reading to children.
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."