“I stand in awe of my body” –Henry David Thoreau
From time to time I become very aware of my body. I am constantly self-conscious about it, but sometimes it catches me by surprise. I don’t consider myself a tactile learner, but I am a much more physical person than I realize. I touch and feel things as I walk past. For example, when I drive, I prefer to be barefoot. I like the feel of the pedals under my foot. I know the resistance of the gas, the give of the break. I drive better when I feel.
Walking through the store a couple of weeks back, I was struck by the act and feel of walking. It was a quiet moment with nothing in particular drawing my attention. In that moment, the feel of my legs moving overwhelmed me. The bend of my knees, the stretch of my muscles. The momentum of my body as I propelled myself through space was the only thing I could concentrate on. It boggles my mind how we walk every single day with no second thought. I watch my cousin struggle to find his balance as he learns to stand and walk. What is so intuitive to me is such a labor for him. Beyond our toddler years, we walk on instinct. We balance, move, coordinate our muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones while doing a hundred other things. We don’t need to think about the act of walking.
Then I hurt my knee. For no real reason, it simple betrayed me. While it is nearly back to normal, it is still stiff. I still can’t straighten it. I feel weak. A small sprain changed my body. My back ached because my stride was off. My calf cramped and hurt because it was stretched and used differently. My hips didn’t align. Something so small threw my whole body off. It’s been said for ages that you don’t know what you have until it is gone. I think we don’t appreciate our bodies until they malfunction, the routine and mundane until they are interrupted.
I think one of the most amazing sensations I’ve had recently is the first drink of cold water. I guess it’s a similar feeling when you take a drink of something hot on a cold day, but for just a moment, that chill runs down my throat and I can feel it moving into my stomach. Eating comes as naturally as walking. While we eat we talk and watch movies and do so many other things. We may savor flavors and enjoy the feeling of fullness, but how often do I stop and feel eating? It’s incredibly rare that I appreciate the act of nourishing my body. However, there are still those cold drinks that wake me up, pull me into this body that carries me around, that I ignore much of the time.
The body is simply amazing. I’ve been especially aware of it lately with my minor injury. That’s not to say that I ignore it most of the time, because I’m a hypochondriac and notice every bump, itch or tenderness. It just never fails to amaze me when I learn something new about me. The mere fact that I have been breathing this entire entry is amazing. I recently talked with a friend about the sense of smell. It is so closely tied to memory recall, to attraction, to a mother knowing her baby (in under an hour, 90% of mothers can identify their babies by smell alone!). However, if asked to give up a sense, so many people choose smell. It goes unnoticed and, thus, unappreciated. I was blown away when I started learning about the hormone oxytocin. In part, it is released in a woman’s body when she breastfeeds and has intercourse. It is a bonding agent. We are designed, in a chemical way, to love our babies that we nurture and our partners. It’s old news that our pupils dilate when we look at something (or someone) pleasing. There are millions of these crazy little facts that seem so trivial, but they add up to something huge: the human body.
All of this simply serves as proof to me, personally, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. There is so much that has to work perfectly, work together, so much in place to sustain us, that all of this isn’t chance. I’m sure some will argue that it’s million of years of evolution and adaptation, but I tend to believe that it’s simply the mysterious beauty of creation. We are so intricate and ornate, still so mysterious, that a Creator far beyond our understanding is seen whenever I learn more about me. That’s really not where I mean for all of this to go, but it simply did.
This is a little disjointed and random, no where near as complete as I would like to be, and not the real writing that I had hoped to be working on, but it’s been a constant thought for me lately. I’m just amazed that I don’t think about it more.
“Your body is a wonderland” –John Mayer