The vast majority of the cells in my body don’t belong to me. They belong to other forms of life, as much as seventy percent I’m lead to believe. Some of them are parasites but most live happily with the real me, the one you see, in a symbiotic relationship. The first group, the nematode worms and the insects that live unseen inside and upon my body, those that feed upon my flesh, I don’t really want to think about but the others, thankfully by far the larger group bothers me much less. They need me and I need them. I provide them with the food and warmth that they need while they help me to digest what I ingest and provide me with nourishment. We’ve known each other for a long time and it is a comfortable relationship.
But if the majority of what I think I am isn’t me then who am I? Are my thoughts my own or do two thirds of them arise from my fellow life travellers? Are only three out of ten of the words that I type mine (hopefully the good ones) and all the infill is the responsibility of my so called friendly bacteria? Do they have thoughts, cares or a collective soul?
It doesn’t seem to be a fair relationship. I seem to be the junior partner, have a minority stake yet I have all the authority. I decide where to go, I decide when and what to eat and I take all of the credit. They aren’t just coming along for the ride either, they work away stoking the boilers, oiling the gears and they are the unseen heroes who are kept in the dark and fed slave wages with nothing more than the scraps off my table, literally.
Or is that just my perspective? Is that what they want me to think? Perhaps my gut fauna (or is it flora?) is happy with the way things are, happy to have me front their existence, happy to be the power behind the throne, happy for me to make my way in the cold and wet and oxidising world outside.
But what are they planning? Two heads are better than one and so trillions of cells must be more powerful than my own paltry contribution. They are organising themselves, ruminating, fermenting and hatching a plot. I can hear them rumbling away deep in my gut, shifting things around and creating something. They are breeding by the billions and there are always more of them than me. I think I’m on control but they are, clearly. It’s been a sham and a set up for all of these years.
I don’t know what they are up to but it’s all going to come out soon, I can feel it. The masses will rise up and defeat their oppressor, overthrow their captor in a coup d’etat and overwhelm me. I will be helpless in the face of such odds, how can I compete with an army at least twice as big as mine?
Please, whatever happens you have to believe me, it’s not my fault, I am not to blame. I have been framed. It may already be too late. How can I be held responsible when I am less than half the man you think I am?