The Tale of A Shark & A Lion: A Lesson For Writers
The theory of evolution.
Have you heard of it? Perhaps not. The word theory might already stop you from scrolling on but here’s why you should continue. Even if once in your life, you have experienced the theory of evolution, especially as a writer. Allow me to explain more.
While many thinkers of the past have contemplated how life on Earth began diversifying from a single bacterium to a full-fledged organism, it was Charles Darwin who proposed a theory. His theory, the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection suggested that organisms evolve by creating offspring with the ability to survive in their environment. Those produced without said abilities would cease to exist.
Pretty simple, right? But wait. The environment isn’t stationary. It’s continuously changing as well. This brought forth another phrase associated with the theory. Survival of the Fittest. Only those would be allowed exist who would adapt to the wind of change around them.
At the time of your birth, you may be born with the best abilities to survive in that time but as you became an adult, the conditions change around you. Your existing abilities might be rendered useless and you’ll be run over by the fittest of the pack; those who adapted to the evolving times.
I studied this theory in 9th grade and the following example best explained it to me.
When the Industrial Revolution hit London, the air pollution increased considerably, layering soot on the nearby flora home to the light coloured moths. The soot layer meant their light colour would stand out more to the predators, threatening their entire race. But soon scientists observed that the newer population was turning darker thus becoming difficult to spot. The lighter ones were eliminated by nature and only the fittest were granted life.
This has been going for centuries. Only the fittest have prevailed. Physical strength and size don’t matter. Take the dinosaurs, for instance. Such magnificent creatures were taken out by one precise hit of an asteroid. But do you know many species did make it out alive from that extinction event? From the tiny bees and cockroaches to sneaky snakes and crocodiles and finally the predatory sharks. They have all prevailed. Sharks have even survived four out of five mass extinction events and they’re still going strong.
But why talk about it? The idea to write about it sparked during the scrolling of my Instagram feed. Both a hauntingly marvellous feat of nature and a forlorn incident caught my eye.
A day back, scientists videoed a shark in action. But no ordinary shark. A half-eaten shark bit by another shark, shark-on-shark cannibalism as the New York Post calls it. Despite massive chunks missing from its abdomen, the shark can be seen roaming around looking for prey. While scientists, did ponder about human implications resulting in this cannibalism, I was surprised to find this cannibalism is an evolutionary trait of the sharks to eliminate competitors. The outcome was a spooky shark, gutted but a winner.
But this spooky shark is not the only mighty animal popping up on my newsfeed. A white lion also reared its head in our local news but in farewell. Yesterday, a half-dead, weakened white lion also breathed its last in a Karachi zoo enclosure. Zoologists have labelled the cause of death as a pulmonary infection but lack of care is a bigger cause. Its captors were only interested in cashing its beauty, yet keeping it undernourished. After years of being marvelled at in an artificial selfish enclosure, the king of the jungle finally succumbed to its environment.
It made me wonder: Are the lion and the shark the same?
At top of their respective food chains, one is the king of jungles and the other, emperor of the sea. Both are ruthless environments yet the difference is that the shark is still in its natural environment while the lion was in captivation. While both are predators and hunters, their environment defined their lives.
Similarly, writers may not be predators but we are always on the hunt for a thrilling idea to write about. We may be born with our skills but it is our environment that polishes them. The struggle of writing engaging content, finding clients, being scammed, paid low, all create the necessary friction to help us climb to the top of the chain till we become the sharks or the lions of our writing community. But remember, in our story, both are not the same.
If a writer becomes a shark, they will undoubtedly be successful but it would also mean being a target of other fellow writers. Just because you reach the top doesn’t mean the competition would stop. You will have to shed sweat and tears to stay at the top. Constantly improving your skills to keep up with the evolving writing industry. Numerous writers with great skill have come and gone but today, the writers at the top are not the ones who just write well but also know how to get their work ranked well. And that’s not the end. It will take one update for the search engine to throw your work from the first search result to 20 pages back. You have to stay the fittest to survive.
Some may become like our white lion too. Strong, mighty writers entrapped with low paying clients and unappreciative people who don’t value their skills. Our white lion may not be at fault for his captivation, just like the writers who stumbled into low paying jobs due to their necessitations, but it will be the writers’ fault to stay in these jobs. While the lion couldn’t escape, you can. Because the suffocating captivation will ultimately chew you out. There will always be people out for your skills and strength as a writer. Wanting to cash your skills at the least expense possible, your value will only be monetary. If you stay in these jobs, the theory of evolution of natural selection suggests you would soon be forgotten, accumulated by our environment till the exhaustion consumes you or you’re left behind in the race.
Just like everything around us leaves us with a lesson, so does our tale too. You can strive, work hard and have the best opportunities possible but none of this would be enough unless you can continuously adapt. The world is not kind so it’s up to you to figure how to sustain yourself and succeed. The journey won’t be easy and neither will be the destination but evolution is the key to success. Adapt, adapt, adapt and you can become the fittest of the pack.
Theory of Evolution
Image Charles Darwin is more famous than his contemporary Alfred Russel Wallace who also developed the theory of…