From the Founder
Impulse is ten years old. In honor of its anniversary, Impulse founder Cleopatra Victoria shares her thoughts with us.
PAPA WAS A ROLLING RIBOSOME
by Cleopatra Victoria, MA, MFT
South of Houston, we're hurtling towards the end of the continent, gas drops to $1.49/gallon, and we pass $39 motels. We're speeding towards Galveston, a 27-mile-wide island of brown sand flung on the Gulf of Mexico. A hundred scientists, astrobiologists, biochemists, and NASA's top stars are about to explore the origins of life.
The conference straddles the gray beach. Scientists drink like fishes (two complimentary happy hours a day), love laptops, and some forget to shower. Among PowerPoint presos, scattergrams, regression analyses, molecular charts, and intriguing dinner conversations, new synapses plow into my brain.
A habitable environment, with favorable planetary conditions, is necessary for life, but no guarantee. Earthly life is a miracle or luck, you decide. There's surely life elsewhere in the universe but as one scientist asked, "Where is everybody?" Extinction is the cosmic default--99% of life has gone extinct. And what is "life"? NASA: "a self-sustaining chemical structure capable of Darwinian evolution." Is there a "shadow biosphere," a form of life we can't see? Scientists murmur about what we don't know, sounding Bionian without knowing it. Earth is 4.8 billion years old. LUCA (Last Universal Common Ancestor), the most recent organism that all organisms living on earth descended from, is 3.5 to 3.8 billion years old. From LUCA came the tree of life, bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes, the latter inclusive of plants, animals, and fungi, meaning that you, precious PsyD, are a dear cousin of the slime mold. Before LUCA? RNA, the ribonucleic acid present in all living cells. And before RNA?
My poster--mirror neuron research, Allan Schore, right-brain unconscious communication, and brain scans of meditators showing a tamped-down parietal cortex (me vs. "not me," Winnicott)--suggests our "oneness." Scientists come to inquire. I explain that as a psychotherapist, I struggle with meanings of life, and that links to the origins of life.
In the old town, warehousey shops sell alligator jerky, salt water taffy, and Goth goods. The Pleasure Pier offers kiddy rides and 26 rules, including no droopy pants (sorry, Justin Bieber). I walk to the beach, where pewter waves bounce towards Mexico, across the metallic horizon. Sunlight falls like a warm shawl on my shoulders. In 100 billion years the sun will explode, melting earth. To our west, Kitt Peak Observatory is installing a $70 million telescope. We will soon be able to see galaxies 10 billion light years away from us. Since light travels at 186,000 miles per second, we will see stars as they were 10 billion years ago. Astronomers and analysts, looking deep into the dark, glittering past, everything so near and yet so very far.