There aren’t very many things I remember about biology. I remember drawing cells that looked more like forays into modern art. I remember learning that I was Homo Sapien Sapien and that for some reason that made me special. And I remember the word niche.
No, it’s not a breakfast casserole. And it’s not something you put a dog on. A niche is the unique function an organism does in its ecosystem. It’s where a living thing belongs.
In telling me this, my biology teacher gave me some useful information. Since I am, in fact, an organism living in an ecosystem: I have a niche. I belong somewhere. This is promising. Unless you have no idea where to look to find your place. In which case, you begin to resent everything you ever read about niches and finches and chlorophyl.
At this point, I am the bitter fifth grader. And all this niche talk has got me feeling worse than a recess beat-down. I am tired of hearing about where everything else in the world belongs and how everything “naturally” finds and does its job, without knowing where I am to go.
Prayer helps, of course. And friends. And music. And what probably amounts to liters of black tea and espresso. All those things are always helpful for taking the edge off. . . but today I found myself wondering: where do I belong? What is the best thing I could possibly be doing for others? And am I remotely close to finding it?
I leave the end to those questions open for your consideration. Our relationship, after all, is symbiotic.