I meant well last week as I planned two posts. Needless to say, that didn’t work out as various aspects of life got in the way. However, I hope to try again this week. Thanks for understanding.
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I like to walk on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
Before coming out to walk, I watched a container ship come over the horizon from the balcony – presumably on its way to a nearby port. As I stand on the shore looking out to sea, I still see it.
I think about why we call them container ships. After all, they are large ships loaded with many containers. Each container is a metal cell. I imagine a look inside the container would reveal other containers. Yes, a collection of containers within a container. Some may be boxes, and within the box could be other boxes.
No matter if one container or a series of containers resembling a nested Russian doll, all containers serve as a protective barrier between the contents inside and the environment of its outer world.
Today I think of containers as enclosed spaces used to hold or transport something – a vessel, repository, canister, drum, box, case, tub, crate, barrel, and more usually composed of metal, wood, plastic, paper, or fabric – even breakable glass and ceramics – containers for packing, shipping, and storage – some rigid and others flexible.
While cruising Alaska, I recall seeing tugboats pulling a barge loaded with semi-truck trailers stacked vertically and horizontally. I imagine each trailer loaded with other containers, and then each of them containing something special. Of course, a container may contain boxes, then each box containing boxes – possibly a series of boxes. Yes, containers within containers that are within containers.
Containers are not new as they have been around nearly as long as humans – probably first for storing food or water. I think about archeologists uncovering ceramic containers from an earlier time. Yet, I think about the containers that people regularly carry today as purses, wallets, backpacks, and more.
I look at the beach-side condo buildings – some tall, some long, and some short. Suddenly I see them as a series of containers lined up and evenly stacked. Each protecting the inhabitants and their belongings. Each with a temperature control system allowing additional heat when it’s cold, but cooling when it’s hot – let alone the ability for each unit to set a preferred temperature.
I look down at the shells on the beach and realize they were nonliving materials made by a living thing to serve as its container – a container that was not present at birth, but one that an organism started producing for itself at a particular point in its life cycle.
I see the sandpipers and sanderlings foraging the sand for food – food that will enter each bird’s digestive tract – a long container designed for a living purpose. Then again, each bird is a two-legged container with wings.
A military jet roars past me. I smile as I think of it as a flying container protecting the pilot from the outer environment. My eyes shift to the clouds, now thinking of them as containers of water vapor that may eventually gather enough moisture causing it to squeeze like a sponge. My mind shifts to another military container – a submarine – so I wonder about the location of the nearest one.
Peering through the blue hole in the clouds toward the heavens and space, I think of the orbiting space container known as the International Space Station, which serves as a protective barrier between the astronauts and the harshness of space.
I think about those astronauts who use a spacesuit for spacewalks – a specialized container serving as a barrier between two environments – one suitable for the human body, and the other devastatingly harsh. To me, the spacesuit container is similar to a can of vegetables on the grocery shelf.
The astronaut’s body within the spacesuit is also a container with a barrier separating different environments on each side of the barrier. Within the human body are several open-spaced cavities, each with sealed spaces for organs. The body seals the chest cavity with a protective barrier to play a role in inhaling and exhaling. A protective covering also seals the brain inside the skull’s container. Yes, another container within a container that is inside the protective container for a spacewalk.
Tissues and organs within the body’s containers are composed of cells. Surprise, surprise, surprise – cells are also containers because each cell has a protective barrier separating two environments. Unlike the astronaut’s protective spacesuit container, it is through these membranes that essential materials pass through to reach their site of need for processing. Through these same membranes, the waste removal process occurs.
Cells contain individual parts with specialized functions. Are you surprised to know that protective barriers cover each part to separate two distinct environments?
Cells are the reason we take in oxygen from the atmosphere and return carbon dioxide. Cells are the reason we eat. Cells are the reason the heart pumps blood throughout the body to transport nutrients and carry away wastes. Cells are the reason we go to the bathroom. Cells are the reason all vital activities exist. Now that’s a fancy container.
Cells must survive to reproduce. Cells require food and eliminate waste. Cells must interact with their surrounding environment. Cells require amino acids to produce proteins. Cells contain DNA to serve as the code of life not only for themselves but for the organism as a whole. As scientist Bruce Lipton states, “In reality, a cell is a biological mini-me compared to the human body. A cell has every biological system that you have.” Now, that is quite the container.
As I finish this walk, I look out to the sea. That large, floating container ship carrying a series of containers to a determined destination is out of sight. I remind myself that trucks and trailers do the same on the highways and roads.
Who would have thought that seeing a cargo ship would lead to thoughts about a wide array of containers? Another question comes to me. Is our planetary home a container? Meanwhile, I enjoy thinking as I walk on the beach. That’s why it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
See what other bloggers have posted about Containers
- Beyond Earth (poems, thoughts, and images by an occasional visitor here)
- Oak Trees and Barrel Staves (an essay)
- A Shipping Container Home (an essay with photos)
- Assorted Containers in Black and White (a photo essay)
Next Post: An Alphabet – Saturday 23rd April @ 1 AM (Eastern US)