No, I am not swearing, nor have I developed Tourettes.

But yesterday morning before starting my day’s work, I decided to take an hour or two down by the bay to find these precious pearls of the sea. Since I discovered them a couple of years ago, they have fascinated me on several different levels. Apart from their use as jewelry items and good luck charms (which is what I sought them for), they have been used for centuries as remedies for dysentery, malaria, and in medicinal teas.

As I studied them yesterday though it truly drove home the aspect of intelligence and how humans generally walk the earth as if we invented the whole concept.

Certainly there are objects that exhibit complete lack of intelligence; rocks, sand, water, The White House. But the rest of the world we live in has evolved to shine a wonderful light on the wildly varied forms of intelligence that there are.

For those of you that don’t know what Nickernuts are, these photographs might show how they grow on a tree, typically near coastal waters. Their seeds are produced in spiny pods and when they mature, they burst open and the nuts fall either onto the ground immediately below or directly into the water to get carried away to distant shores. Nickernuts from Florida and the Caribbean have been recorded to come up on the shores of Ireland and Scotland thanks to ocean currents. They have an extremely hard shell which is impervious to salt water (which is one of the reasons they have been earmarked for jewelry purposes) and a slow sea-borne trip of five or six thousand miles degrades them not at all!

So as I was standing there yesterday studying the tree, I noticed the great lengths it went to produce a seed that could survive its surroundings. The tree itself was very thorny and so too the pod … good defense against creatures looking for a meal. The tree stood with its roots in salt water, thriving in a way that us humans have failed to do despite our genuine interest in processing salt-water to nourish ourselves. But this tree not only filters the salt water, but it knows that its seed must be able to withstand that very same salt water if it hopes to survive. So it places its seed in a hardened shell that is completely at home riding the waves to a new land.

The world around us displays such magnificent intelligence, much of which is beyond our own abilities to comprehend. We murder creatures and destroy an environment from the premises of greed and the belief that we genuinely know best. We place ourselves at the pinnacle of intelligence and look down on everything else around us.

It’s what allows us to “pave paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Have a thoughtful week and let’s all work towards keeping this wonderful planet around for our children and their children.

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