"And a question forms in my mind. An unexpected question. Is the whole of the cell alive, or is only a part of it?
This is a question I haven't previously considered. A simple question of such obvious importance that I can't imagine why I've never thought of it before. What is alive and what is not? Where is the boundary between life and absence of it?"
+ + +"And now a further image arises in my mind. Of a petal detaching from a rose. The petal falls to the ground. Descends, twirls through air to earth. Then begins to decay. Crimson fades into brown. The petal shrivels and twists. Dark veins, a sepia background. The process of disintegration. The cells breaking down into molecules from which they're constructed. Those molecules leaching into the water of the soil. Further disordering of the molecules into their constituent atoms and ions.
Finally the petal disappears. And although it seems as if it had never existed, those once-incorporated ions, atoms, and molecules are now distributed in the earth and air. Then we move on a few years. To a time when a few of these same atoms have once again become part of a living thing. Of a grass stem picked by a child so she can suck in its sweetness. Atoms, once of the petal, then returned to earth, then of the grass, are now of the child. "