Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Microstory 1827: Built on Sandeaters

I’m famous in certain circles. You may think that every species of animal has been discovered by now, but that’s not true. No, the legends of massive monsters hiding from cameras in the forests are not what I’m talking about. Nor am I talking about microscopic organisms, which we may never catalogue comprehensively. I found something in between...something very special. As remote as the region is where I discovered it, I’m surprised that no one had noticed it before. Well, I’m guessing that people centuries ago knew about it, but didn’t think to write it down. That’s probably what happened. I chose to name it the marsupian sandeater. It doesn’t really eat sand, but it really does live in the desert, and it really is a marsupial. That’s the first thing that was so special about it. This species is the only known marsupial to exist somewhere besides Australia or the Americas. Nothing like this has been found on the continent of Africa. The assumption is that they were transported here at some point, but scientists have yet to find evidence of that, or similarly that they aren’t indigenous to the region, as crazy as that sounds. Like the kangaroo rat, this thing can survive on an incredibly low amount of water. It actually recycles it throughout its system a few times before crystalizing the waste, and passing it. It doesn’t sweat, but uses blood flow to regulate its own temperature, and cool itself in the hot climate. It’s an amazing creature, and I feel such pride for having been the first to find it, and realize what I had. It was totally by accident. I enjoy learning the sciences, but I don’t have a degree myself. I guess you could call me a lifelong learner, because I love to read, and I know how to do research on my own. So I wasn’t super involved in the ongoing research into it, but like I said, I was given the honor of naming it, and I received general credit for the achievement too.

Sadly, my fifteen minutes of fame didn’t last very long, which is surely why they call it that. I spent my life after that trying to recreate the magic, whether it was a second new species in the Amazon rainforest, or a new method of detecting exoplanets. Nothing came of my efforts. I wasn’t able to make a single significant accomplishment since. As it turns out, it was only a fluke. I wasn’t special, I wasn’t skilled. I was a nobody that time would eventually forget. I took that trip to my ancestral lands to find my true self somewhere on the journey, but I ended up just finding a fabricated version of myself. He was special. He mattered. But he died long ago, and the world was left with this lesser facsimile. My obsession with bringing him back to life drove me deeper and deeper into obscurity, and truthfully, mediocrity. I should have found my true passion. I should have focused on figuring out my skill set, and contributing to the world in my own way, instead of giving up on anything that didn’t produce results immediately, like the one time it did. My family and friends could see it. They kept trying to get me to settle down, but I didn’t listen, and there is nothing I regret more. There is nothing I could regret more, because it was my entire identity. I defined myself as someone who was going to do great things, rather than someone who was going to do his best, and try to be happy. I had the opportunity to go see the healer in America, but I decided the last thing I needed was more time. It was probably only going to come with more disappointment. I’m like that little marsupial in the Sahara; self-reliant to a fault, uninteresting but for one thing, with nothing better to do than burrow in the sand, and not drink water.

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