The Atom Between Red and Green

Quick! Consume this itty-bitty science-filled quote — like a smart pill! — and then we’ll talk about something more fun: goals! (It might help if you hold your breath until it’s over; you’ll read faster.)

All the green in the planted world consists of these whole, rounded chloroplasts wending their way in water. If you analyze a molecule of chlorophyll itself, what you get is one hundred thirty-six atoms of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen arranged in an exact and complex relationship around a central ring. At the ring’s center is a single atom of magnesium. Now: If you remove the atom of magnesium and in its exact place put an atom of iron, you get a molecule of hemoglobin. The iron atom combines with all the other atoms to make red blood.  ~Annie Dillard, from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Okay, now breathe… Great job!

To summarize (in case you’re a little bit dizzy), the only difference between the molecules that make plants green and blood red is either an atom of magnesium or iron.

Got that? Red and green, one atom of difference.***

Kinda like the heart difference between these guys:

What other famous red and green comparison can you think of? (Answer in photos at the bottom of the page.)

Now, let’s put this all together and apply it. Here we find ourselves, having recently clocked another New Year, ready to set some goals, and no, it’s not too late.

A goal is a journey of many steps, right?


Using your imagination (yes, we’ll be thinking with both left and right sides of our brain this year) picture yourself as that complicated molecule that colors things red and green. Next, picture where you are on your journey as red, and picture where you want to be as green…

You look confused. Have I lost you yet? Is all this a little too rah-rah Matrix-y with the pills and the colors and the goals?

Okay, try this instead. Not pills, but jello shots:

And not positive thinking, but positive reinforcement:

You are intricate. You are capable of changing your world. You have almost everything necessary to get started, except ONE THING.

What is that one thing stopping you?

Is it more time? Better focus? More effort? Organization? Better self-discipline? (Am I talking to myself, or what?)

Did you figure out what one small change you need to move from red to green?

Ready? Set? GO!

*** My photos might be a little confusing; I should probable only have shown green plants and red blood, but I didn’t have any good blood photos. Sorry.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s