I’ve become quite overwhelmed by the noise of both mainstream and social media, so many opinions and yet so little meaningful insight to be gained. Looking for how to orientate during such bewildering times, I feel drawn to maps that offer depth through simplicity and one such map is embryology. Thanks to the contributions of scientists such as Jaap Van de Wal, we can use embryology as a model to creatively explore the principles of duality and polarity which feel so pertinent at both personal and planetary levels.
The human is egg is the largest human cell, 10,000 times larger than a sperm cell, present in her grandmothers womb she has a sense of timelessness – each month by some mysterious process of being chosen, a lone egg is released from the ovary to roll through the fallopian tube like a slowly rotating planet moving through the inky darkness of space. At first surround by cells that nourish and feed her, a time will come when these supplies will diminish and her survival and evolution will require her to come into relationship with an entirely different entity – sperm.
If egg epitomises a state of singularity and beingness, then sperm embody the archetypes of collectivity and doing-ness; far from being competitive, sperm are now understood to be highly cooperative – working together to ensure the success that is fertilisation. The sperm and the egg arguably embody the greatest polarity to be overcome in life’s pursuit to continue, yet the annual estimated 140 million births globally are testament to this seemingly impossible polarity being surmounted. Van de Wal describes the meeting of these two vastly different entities as a moment where ‘everything might be, and nothing has to be’.
So what happens in this moment? Neither a stand-off or an attack, but a spinning dance which continues for hours and hours as thousands of sperm swim around and around the ovum. I like to think that during this spinning ritual, those of a fundamentally different nature are holding one another in profound respect whilst a deep sensing and listening take place.
Chemicals released during this dance will alter both their natures, both are changed by their encounter – the dance of deep listening has allowed two polarities to fuse and bring forth a third and new possibility. What a beautiful reminder that each one of us, despite our human biographies, have evolved out of this triumph over ‘otherness’ and how can we bring deep listening into both our personal interactions and also our global perceptions.