Creative photos and essays from the San Juan Islands


A Sacred Element

A Sacred Element

A favorite of mine at the San Juan Island Library are documentary films because I like the way they make me think about real people and issues in a real world! That is, how they ALLOW me to think, ponder, and align my life with the intelligent views of others.

One example is David Suzuki’s “A Force of Nature.” Suzuki, a soft-spoken Canadian scientist and TV personality that I became familiar with years ago while watching “The Nature of Things,” his series out of Vancouver, BC. That’s one advantage of living on the border, our exposure to Canadian television. I’ve enjoyed many episodes of “The Nature of Things,” the “Beachcombers.” “North of 60,” and many other excellent productions, so much so that I occasionally use the expression “Eh?” (long’a’) in my speech!

Here’s my gold medal Suzuki quote: “So, air is more than just a physical component of the biosphere. Air is a sacred element,” This quote is from David Suzuki’s movie “A Force of Nature,” which I watched a couple days ago. Like any good movie, I find myself reflecting on themes presented to me. Dr. Suzuki expanded on his keynote with this:

“The eminent Harvard astronomer Harlow Shapley once performed a thought exercise about air. He pointed out that while 98 per cent of the air we breathe is highly active oxygen and mildly reactive nitrogen, about 1 per cent is made up of argon, an inert gas. Because it is inert, it is breathed in and out without becoming a part of our bodies or entering into metabolic transformations. Shapley calculated that each breath contains about 30,000,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s 30 quintillion) atoms of argon. Suppose you exhale a single breath and follow those argon atoms. Within minutes, they have diffused through the air far beyond the spot where they were released, travelling into the neighborhood, then beyond. After a year, those argon atoms have been mixed up in the atmosphere and spread around the planet in such a way that each breath you take includes at least 15 atoms of argon released in that one breath a year earlier! All people over the age of twenty have taken at least 100 million breaths and have inhaled argon atoms that were emitted in the first breath of every child born in the world a year before!”

Suzuki concludes his ‘Sacred Element” thought…”From that it follows that every breath you take has argon atoms that were once in the bodies of Joan of Arc and Jesus Christ. It also has atoms that were in dinosaurs 65 million years ago and every breath you take will diffuse to terrestrial life forms as far as we can see into the future. Air IS a sacred element, it links life in a single matrix, and joins the past, present and future into a single flowing entity.”

Find Suzuki’s movie “A Force of Nature.” It’s more than a nature lecture, much more, as it tells the life story of this Canadian favorite son, born in British Columbia, who was taken to an internment camp with his family (all of whom were born in Canada) as a young boy during World War II. With his PhD in hand from the University of chicago, he told his father he was moving back to BC to take a job, and his father immediately said; “Why? They hate us there!”


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