Memento Mori Paperweight, Medium Algae

  1. brand The School Of LIfe


Quick Overview

This is a highly magnified image of a single-celled diatom algae. It is one of the tiniest and oldest living things on the planet. The naturalist Charles Darwin wrote about it to emphasise an idea that remains momentous: that we humans evolved from other, simpler species. At the time, this was taken to be dangerously demeaning. But it’s a hugely liberating lesson. Often we expect too much from ourselves and others. We forget our origins as smaller, hairier primates and (before that) simple clusters of cells, like these algae. We need to climb down, and recall our mortality, our frailty, our terrible limitations and our weaknesses – which are tied to our deep ancestry as tiny things at the bottom of the sea.