Many of the great contributors to our world have been those individuals who are perpetual students of life, those who observe the world around them, absorb the lessons, and integrate the findings. I have long theorized the innate perfection of nature vs. the screwed-up nature of man. It is mostly the uber “intelligence” of man that has lead to the screwing up of nature. Thus it seems such a brilliant idea that the discipline of Biomimicry was developed, the study of nature’s best designed systems to solve human problems.
Naturally the first human problem that sprang to my mind is that of the human coupling. A perpetual source of mystery exists as to why a successful relationship is rare at least and challenging at best. Turns out, there are some gems of wisdom all around us, from your lawn to your fruit bowl to your lunch-time salad.
In the plant world, there are 3 primary types of cells that enable it to live a long, happy, and balanced life: parenchyma , collenchyma, and sclerenchyma (you’ll have to blame some other scientist for the naming of them).
Parenchyma are the most plentiful cells in a plant, they are thin walled, have a large storage area, have a relatively regular shape, are very elastic, and they are still alive when mature. This cell’s job is to feed, nurture, enable growth, heal wounds, store away nutrients for a later date, and provide for gaseous exchange. This cell is also resilient and flexible, capable of change, transformation, and bouncing back.
Collenchyma are found below the surface, they are thick walled and they provide the support (i.e. the strings in a celery stalk), but do not prevent growth and are still alive at maturity. These cells are able to change shape and while they don’t return to their original shape, they do not harden over time.
Sclerenchyma provide support and structure but they have a hardening agent, this forms the grit in a pear and the rigid stalk of linen. This cell, however, is dead at maturity and simply remains firm and provides protection and strength.
It is clear and simple to draw the parallel example from plant system to human relationship. To achieve a successful relationship, just as in a celery stalk, you must be able to generate large quantities of nourishment (i.e. love and respect) and have a great capacity to store it up for the times when clouds block the sun or when a dry spell leaves you to wilt. This system must be willing to forgive, able to morph and rebound, and capable of healing, all the while tolerating the gaseous exchanges that are elemental to this process. You need thick skin because it will provide the support that is necessary to weather the harsh and the plentiful seasons. You must be able to evolve and willing to foster change in your partner but aware and defensive of becoming two completely different and separate systems by hardening or becoming rigid. Clearly an important note from nature is do all of this while managing not to kill each other while you are maturing together. Last but not least, one must concede to some element of rigid support structure which seems to analogize the solid commitment that is required. This commitment is not living and breathing, it is static, solely and completely dependent on the behavior and choices of its residents.
Thus it’s clear to me that even with opposable thumbs, free will, and theoretically, an advanced brain, we are dumber than celery when it comes to relationships. But, perhaps we are schoolable, I know I am learning. Thank you, celery.