Conversation With A Tick About Enjoying One’s Place In The Universe


“The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.

In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don’t try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.

When you are content to be simply yourself
and don’t compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.

From: The Tao te Ching, translation and interpretation by Steven Mitchell

Hi folks,

FitOldDog's advice, Tick, blogging ideas, running, North Carolina,

North Carolina tick, which looks like the one that moved in on my leg during a recent trail run.

Today I completed my latest coach-prescribed trail run of seven miles, 2 easy, 3 fast, and 2 easy, but I had a pain behind my right knee the whole time. Eventually the run was over, and I checked my knee only to find a large tick working its way in for the duration. With appropriate veterinary skill I removed the damn thing. As my uninvited guest struggled to escape from the gentle grip of my forceps, legs wiggling desperately, I started thinking about the meaning of life, and why ticks do what ticks do, and the fact that the tick and I are related, though somewhat distantly. My conversation with the tick was brief, as I asked what the hell it was doing in my leg, did it think that I was a suitable host, really, and how long had it (didn’t know his or her sex) been patiently waiting for some host to come walking by. I realized, of course, that the tick and I are just striving to live, because we are programmed to do so by our ‘selfish genes‘ (check this link if you want to enjoy a discussion of the matter by some philosophy students – great stuff). I guess I run for the same reason, because my ancestors ran, and nature makes things that are good for survival and procreation feel good, so we do it some more. And then the tick takes advantage of our habits, hanging out, ready to take hold and enjoy the one solid meal of its lifetime.

FitOldDog's advice, Evolution, tick, human, arthropod, common ancestors, blogging ideas, safe exercise,

The common ancestor of FitOldDog and that pesky tick lies at the branch just above 'ARTHROPODS'

Of course, that tick and I are related. To follow this story you have to go back a bit, millions of years ago in fact, to our common ancestor (or cloud of ancestors) that we share with ticks. This story is beautifully explained by Richard Dawkins in “The Ancestor’s Tale.” As the tick was clearly one of my remote cousins, I just could not ‘squash it like a bug,’ so I was left with a difficult decision. I didn’t want this parasite back on my body, but I was loath to kill a distant relative, so I flushed it down the drain. The tick then went on a journey to our septic tank, unless he discovered some other form of egress, much like the sturdy heroes of “The Roaches Have No King” (great book!). Those roaches knew a thing or two, including their place in the Universe, but we humans have created so many barriers between ourselves and ‘nature,’ that we sometimes take ourselves a little too seriously, becoming somewhat disconnected. From time to time it pays to stop and talk to your remote cousins, as such conversations can help you to reconnect with your place in the Universe, which can be comforting and helpful. Knowing your place can help you enjoy your life more fully.

For instance, as you age you slow down as an athlete, like it or not. But if you accept your place as an age-grouper, rather than wasting time living in the illusory world of past glory, you will embrace the race of today. I love it when I go to Lake Placid each year and see the same tough old guys ready to ‘duke it out.’ FitOldDog’s advice is that you get to know your place in the pack. We older age-groupers are just glad to be there for as long as we can. This is living in the moment.

I kind of hope that tick found a way out of our septic tank, but if so I would prefer that it not make its way back to my leg, distant cousin or no.

-k @FitOldDog


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.