The following is the foreword to a biology project discussing the Axolotl, a critically endangered amphibian native to Lake Xochimilco in Mexico. Enjoy!
I don’t need to travel farther than my desk to witness one of the key characteristics of populations of living species. Actually, I needn’t even need stand up or fidget. All I need to do is look at the reflection on the glossy wood finish of the wooden table, and I can read into more detail than any 7th edition of a college biology textbook could ever provide. When Darwin coined natural selection, evolution; he coined not only a new, yet unearthed characteristic of living things, but also a scientific term by which to refer to an inherent quality of human beings, particularly those in the earlier years of their lives, where change is so dramatically swift and quick. It’s futile to think that a 14-year old is the same tomorrow than today. Thus, if it’s futile to think the opposite, it’s unnerving to think about the truth.
As I sit down to write this report at a time I’d rather not specify, I look at myself in the reflection of the glossy desk and think about how much I’ve evolved. Not only in physical attributes, but more so in thought. What I considered an immutable way of life two years ago has changed, and it’s always useful to think that change is for the better, especially when you constantly adopt new ways that in turn constantly reveal yet another inefficiency. Too nice, too mean, too unfeeling, too pragmatic, too complicated, too self-defeating … the self-critique is as inherent as the change, and so in addition to the written, unwavering, stalwart nature of alleles, recombination, and DNA, us human beings – and likely all sentient beings – must deal with another comparably inextricable, abstract, and wholly intangible vector of change – the constant reassessment of ourselves and the world around us by our omnipotent, versatile, and often overwhelming masses of jelly and muscle in our skulls. Our brains, of course.