The spaceship

When I was 8 years old, I had a Catechism class about the book of Genesis – a book that I still find  beautiful – where we were told about when God brings the animals for Adam to give names (Genesis 2, 19-20).  Despite the fact that, by the year 2013 AD, we are still naming new animal species, my class back in the 1980’s had a short list of animals where each one was somehow useful for man: the cow, the bee, the horse, the dog…  As we went through the list, a kid beside me asked “what about the fly? What is it good for?” to that our teacher answered, “I don’t know. But God certainly knows”. So God created the fly, but forgot to explain why.

Creation of Animals, Raphael Sanzio, 1519

Creation of Animals, Raphael Sanzio, 1519

It was several years later that I realized the importance of flies and other small animals that transfer energy and matter from shit and dead bodies to birds and fish. They are very useful and extremely important to the biosphere. Unfortunately their role can’t be listed as directly useful for man, but without them I don’t think it would be possible for us to live on Earth. The fact is it made much more sense when my vision of life took man out from the center of the universe. Now what if I reverse the question: “What are humans good for?”

Well, this has probably been discussed ad nauseum. My favorite answer to that question is biological; life spreads, one way or another, and humans are the only species who can take life to other planets. That’s all we are good for. We are like viruses that spread from cell to cell, the difference is our infectious cycle takes thousands of years.

Fine by me, but years later that idea surfaced in my brain again. It begun with some unknown pregnant woman who passed by me while talking to her friend: “I won’t breastfeed. It’d make me feel like an animal.” I’m not an expert in breastfeeding, as the only thing I can tell from personal experience, according to my mom, is that I loved to be breastfed. Breastfeeding is not my point. My point is the fear of “feeling like an animal”. It puzzles me how someone who can’t behave like an animal could make a baby in the first place. It must have been a really boring night. Well, fine, not my business. What do other “anti-animal-behavior”people think when they eat, or when they go to the toilet? Don’t they realize that they have those necessities because of their animal physiology? Plants don’t go the toilet. I couldn’t come up with an answer, this stayed as a “pending issue” in my brain.

Several months after all that antropological/physiological questioning, I was in a train going to work. It was a hot summer morning, and I was smashed from all sides by other people.

This is how a biologist feels in a crowded train

This is how a biologist feels in a crowded train

After ten minutes in the train, I suddenly realized that I was holding my breath between stops (you can try this if you haven’t: in a crowded wagon, take two or three deep breaths when the doors open, then breath slowly until the next stop. Don’t hold your breath completely as it will increase your stress). Do you see? My hypothalamus was adapting to the toxic and stressful environment of a big city. How is that possible? I had to leave that as a second “pending issue”, as the train arrived to my stop and I went off to work.

Late at night, I was at home watching TV, my rent bill was lying beside me – I had just opened it and noticed that the price had been “upgraded” somehow. The TV was showing some car commercial before a show about late mothers. Some of my neurons started to fire :

  1.  Apartments are more and more expensive, our living places are smaller and smaller as time goes by;
  2. Cars are smaller and smaller too, and they now look like micro-environments where one could live if needed;
  3. We are adapting to more and more crowded spaces (trains, night clubs, fashionable events, sales);
  4. We are being adapted to chemically processed food, and discouraged from eating other animals;
  5. Video games are more and more attractive; some of them detect our movements so we can exercise in our living rooms;
  6. The Chinese started to send people to space, we’ll probably have low cost space flights soon…

Bing! That’s it:


And we are not going to the moon, nor to mars… this will be a very long trip! Just consider:

New-York-magazine-cover-old-pregnant-woman7. People are more and more holding their physiological necessities in the name of “social acceptance”;

8. Everybody seems to want to live forever;

9. Women are having their babies at later ages;

10. The asexual community is growing

So if you are still reading this, you might come to the same conclusions: the spaceship will be crowded and we’ll be in it for several decades. There will be no births and no barbecues. Sex will be forbidden until we get to mating time, which will be a couple of months before reaching destination. All those ~70 years old men will have to fecundate ~70 years old virgin ladies. Fortunately we already have pills for that.

Which then means, this is not about selected people getting in and having a pleasant voyage towards the infinite. It’s the opposite: a few selected people will stay on Earth, because they want the Caribbean, the Alpes, Côte-d’Azur and Niagara Falls for themselves. They will go up the Eiffel Tower and to Disneyworld whenever they want, and the waiting lines will be much shorter. They won’t use nuclear weapons against their own patrimony, and they won’t go out on the streets shooting everybody because they know we are just too many! I’m sure that they have been planning this for a long, long time, and of course they will not send everybody out. They will have to keep a few servants. That’s why  not everybody is being adapted to the spaceship, some still live pleasant lives in small towns all around the world. And that’s also the reason why we have more and more reality shows where people compete to see who is the best servant.

Man… I hate crowded trains. And I love barbecue. I want to stay. I’ll do my best to prove them that I can be a good servant on Earth. And because a biologist is of absolutely no use as a servant, I started to learn how to cook. Fingers crossed, I feel that I have to learn fast.

But I wish you a nice trip!



Thanks to my friend Scott Jeffers for having kindly reviewed my English again (and this time before publication).

This post is tagged creative writing, and it was quite fun to write it. I don’t intend to create any spaceship believers sect, but in case you do, don’t forget to email me so  we can talk about royalties. Making up a new theory based on random links was an interesting exercise. Please leave your critics, suggestions and comments below.



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