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From below you watch, from below and inside and beyond and betwixt, a leggy Atlas behind whom trails a critical cargo you hold most dear: all the building blocks and chemicals for neurotransmission, for construction, for deconstruction, for anything your cell might wish, bound up in an enormous lipid balloon that pulls tensely upon your back, a similar structure to the ones that your translated brethren carry along the neural rails. The lot of you carry on like this together, engaged in a cellular scale re-enactment of golden-age boxcar drifting, your destinations dictated by other needs than yours. Except this distinguishes you: what you carry is not merely yours, not merely a personal knapsack of trinkets and photographs, but instead is the province of all things essential to the function of a cell, of a neuron, of your home. You are the quiet helper unrecognized, unacclaimed, forgotten till you falter.

You swing your globular legs step by purposeful step, navigating with confidence along saltwater highways, all densely packed with other dynamic denizens, and as you walk one way, your kinetic cousins walk another, similarly burdened in their retrograde motion. When your task is done, you may yourself be lost, or returned home, or sent to some other fate, even remade – but such futures are beyond your ken. For you, there is only the task, the journey, the quest to move forward – all else becomes immaterial.

And in your fatty firmament, punctuated here and there by proteinaceous cloud, a few charged cellular messengers – the ions upon whose axis your world turns – rush toward you, falling through holes in the sky, and as they approach, other species soar away. And in this way, your home gives rise to the signal beyond the noise, the fundamental unit of thought, carried by a few restless particles, all of which are driven by electrochemical imperatives that govern them, you, everything, from the picometer scale to the expanses of space that span galaxies. These are the currents that run like invisible lightning overhead, the insulated and treasured potential for action, carefully regulated, all higher functions thus transformed into a exercise in unimaginably precise control of a few molecular movements – including yours.

And you, you, essential you – as the current flows above you, you labor below, a traveler in wake, for without what you carry, the thought, the thought of thought, would not be hardwired, fixed, learned.

You are small, yes, but you are mighty. You are a cog in the machine; you are a one-way car on a protein highway; you are kinesin, and without you, the world crumbles.

 

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