I was never one much for the exact sciences -I dropped maths when I was fifteen- but I liked biology. Many things were too abstract for me and my humanities brain, still are, really, but I understood biology. Genes; diseases and bacteria; how children come to be; muscles and bones; cells and their structures; animal behaviours; and osmosis. Osmosis.
I understood it, of course, in the black-and-white way only a sixteen-year-old can understand things. What I understood, was that a fluid moves through tiny holes in the membranes of cells because on the other side of that membrane the conditions differ to that where it came from. It is how plants gain water from the soil they are rooted in, it is the reason a raisin hydrates when you soak it in water, it is why a snail dies when salt has been poured over them. When one immerses two shell-less eggs, one in water, one in sugar water, the first will swell, the second will shrink.
Salt takes the moisture from one place and deposits it onto the next and I wonder whether tears count and what I can transport from one place onto the next with their help.
Now, researching it, I know that I understood a half story, at best. Reading page after page, I come to realize how little I know, like only one ten years older can come to understand. I read the Wikipedia article and find my mind wandering, skipping over unknown words, looking at the pictures and not even fully grasping those. I search for simpler explanations and read websites aimed towards the education of children younger than I was when I first heard of the word. I understand that I never really understood, and that the way in which I gave meaning to osmosis was merely my mind, drawing metaphorical parallels that my biology teacher would have very much disapproved of. Yet osmosis still appeals to my imagination.
I soak my hands in water and see the fingertips prune. I water my plants and see them straighten. I salt my cheeks with my tears and understand the wrinkles.
Movement, fluidity, what is felt but cannot be seen, what is unseen but can be observed, this theme encompasses it all. We invite you to write something around the theme of osmosis. It can be interpreted as broadly or as literally as you would like. Create a spoken word piece about tree roots, compose a poem on the membrane of a cell, hidden away in your eye, who will never see, but is vital to seeing; write a column about why you stopped watering your boyfriend, as he refuses to grow; draw the parallel between osmosis and migration in an editorial; or pen a short story detailing the last minutes of a slug, lonely on the garden path, succumbing to death by freshly ground pink (of course) Himalayan salt.
We will publish pieces that relate to our new theme osmosis in November and December, and will be very happy to receive your contributions. You can ask us any questions about submitting or directly send us your work by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Though this editorial is in English, we publish in Dutch, too.