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Protein, Proteus, and the Enduring Constancy of Running

Posted by George Parker on
<b>Protein, Proteus, and the Enduring Constancy of Running</b>

Curious, I investigated the word origin of protein, the building blocks of life. It is derived from the Greek word proteios, meaning primary and first, which, in turn, derives from the Greek God Proteus.

Proteus is a Greek god known as the Old Man of the Sea. Proteus knew everything, including the past, present, and future. Since he could see into the depths of the sea where others could not, he was able to prophesize. He did not, however, wish to divulge his information to humans. He, therefore, developed the ability to shapeshift to avoid being caught. He could transform into a lion, snake, water, and fire, among other shapes. Still, people sometimes captured him despite his changing forms, and they could get the prophecy from him. Because of his ability to change shapes, he often represents "the original matter from which the world was created.”[1] Hence, the association with protein as a building block of life.

What is interesting to me is Proteus’ tendency to shapeshift, contort, and wiggle, all to avoid telling the truth. How many of us can relate? Or, how many of us have seen ourselves change over time in response to life, challenges, and growth?

I appreciate the constancy of running --- it is a continuous thread throughout my life, connecting changes in career, family, relationships, and interests. No matter how we inevitably change, running is a measure of truth, letting us know where we have been, where we are, and where we can go. Maybe, protein should have its origins in running as the primary building block of life.



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