Sunday, April 12, 2015

Adventure is for the birds

Six o’clock was approaching in inconceivable leaps. You label the tubes, I’ll label the package. We send our DNA out for sequencing, which means we ship little tubes of clear liquid in an envelope to New Jersey. In a few days, we receive a computer file with strings of A’s, C’s, G’s and T’s that we carefully analyze for key differences. The last package pickup is at 6:00pm. We were running late.

I took the envelope and ran through the grand halls of my work place; past the 145 year old canoe, through the 1950’s forest, past protists and dodos and horeshoe crabs. It was a natural history themed This is your Life episode. I felt fleet-footed and brave.

This project is not a traditional adventure. No traveling to far off places to collect rare specimens, no field clothes, no tent sleeping. No plane ticket, no goodbyes. All the work occurs less than 2 miles from my apartment. Specimens are sent directly to me. Even my “time travel” to collect historical specimens involved going in some very nearby doors I had never entered. Maybe I am missing out, or maybe I am incredibly lucky.

Out of breath from my run, I reached the desk. “Did I miss package pickup?”, “No”. My mind sailed away to temporary confident places, I did it! imagine what other impossible things I am capable of? I think about these birds constantly. I regularly wonder what the complete data will show. I am dying to know. I am an over-thinker, but I am also an immovable beast, I don’t love going places like everyone around me seems to. I recently diagnosed myself as an indoor dreamer. But even though I haven’t crossed rapids, or hiked for hours, the intellectual journey is an adventure to me, one that I would gladly run through the halls to achieve.

After my focus returned, the man took my package and smiled, “the last pickup is 8:00pm”. Ashamed, exalted, I told him about my gloriously unnecessary run, and how great it felt. He told me to run back. So I did.

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