Sometimes I write about love. Sometimes I write about the illusion of separation. I am referring to the same thing: a deep feeling that everything is connected.

Often I talk about photosynthesis: the merging of carbon dioxide and water with the energy of the sun, and how this relates to our metabolism: when we eat plants, we combine the carbon in them with oxygen, the waste product of photosynthesis, and we exhale carbon dioxide. These two systems complement each other perfectly.

I also often talk about lichens: small self-sufficient ecosystems, consisting of fungi, algae and bacteria. We call this way of living together a mutualistic symbiosis: they cannot live without each other.

Recently, while writing, it struck me that it is most strange to talk about symbiosis when organisms live close to each other, but not when they both live somewhere else. Isn’t it true that we live in symbiosis with plants, trees, algae and cyanobacteria? While they may not live in or on our bodies, we cannot live without them. They could probably live without us, but isn’t it in our best interests to take good care of our symbionts?

Original title: Symbiose, translation by Aveen Colgan