Every Body's Business


I’ll chalk this week up to being one of a couple medical check-offs. I had a physical yesterday and I am scheduled for a colonoscopy on Friday. (Don't be jealous!) I’ll spare you the details of both, because nothing says you’re old more than talking about your health, or lack of it.

But my visit to my doctor provided a reminder of my current read. I am reading Bill Bryson’s book, The Body: a guide for occupants. The book is fascinating at so many levels and has given me a new appreciation for the complexity of the human body. Each chapter addresses a different part of the body and I can tell by how it’s written that Bryson did a ton of research in writing it. It’s a 500+ page book, a size that will usually dissuade me from even checking it out, but I have to say, I am hooked on it.

I find myself telling my wife and kids some of the trivial facts that are in it.

Things like:

1. The average person blinks 12,000 times a day. Enough time that your eyes are actually closed for more than 23 minutes a day because of it.

2. You have about 100,000 microbes per square centimeter of your skin.

3. Just sitting quietly, doing nothing at all, your brain churns through more information in 30 seconds than the Hubble Space Telescope has processed in 30 years.

4. The brain uses 20% of our energy and makes up just 2% of our body weight.

5. Your heart beats 100,000 times a day, and as many as 3.5 billion times in a lifetime. Every hour it dispenses around 70 gallons of blood.


These facts are gobsmacking. The book makes it clear that every part of the body is a miracle unto itself. When you put them all together, it screams of a higher power. If we came from a Big Bang, there’s something out there that did some pretty involved architecture on the human body. (To say nothing of plants, animals, fish, rocks, etc.)

The book is a reminder that when everything is working in synchronicity, life is good. At the same time, with all of the complexity, it’s really quite a wonder stuff doesn’t go wrong more often. And don’t get me started on the body’s ability to heal itself. It’s almost too much to fathom, yet we take it all so for granted and treat out bodies like we’re renters, not owners.

The fact that I was reading it lead to an interesting discussion with my doctor. He seemed as awed by it as me and while he claimed he wasn’t a religious person, he had a hard time believing that the molecules and cellular level organisms figured everything out on their own. It does seem a bit of a stretch.

The moral of the story is, take care of yourself, I guess. Eat right, exercise and get your rest. If you had any idea of the billions of transactions your body is undergoing even while reading this blog, well, you’d be gobsmacked too. (I’ve always wanted to write a blog post and use gobsmacked. So there.)

Today’s musical choice is the polar opposite of the wonder of life. Zombie, by the Cranberries, featuring Dolores O’Riordan, one who was taken too early. It was one of my favorites in the early 90s.

Blogging off...


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