Our Incredible Bodies

Human body systems

My body has served me well for seventy-two years with little grumbling. Though I sometimes imagine it would like to say, “Whoa, there, Big Girl, how about we think this over,” it always does its best to meet my sometimes unreasonable demands.

It has survived the indignities of tight shoes, backcombed hair, and potty training; it’s been overfed, underworked, sunburned, and sleep-deprived.  Doctors prod it; mosquitoes bite it; lines age it. Yet it keeps on ticking.

At my request, it learned to walk upright, stand on its head, pluck a turkey, swim underwater, avoid electrified fences, and type 40 words a minute. It has ridden on a camel’s hump, on a harrow as ballast, and behind the wheel of a stick-shift pickup truck with faulty brakes.

In its time, it danced the mashed potato, ate armadillo, wrestled siblings, and remained in plank position — though maybe it shouldn’t have. It enjoyed buttermilk, Creedance Clearwater Revival, the smell of Magic Markers, and sleeping under the stars.

Its legs climbed a fourteener in Colorado, a Mayan temple in Belize, the 354 steps inside the Statue of Liberty, and out of bed under protest. Its ears heard waterfalls, laughter in classrooms, the muffled silence of a snowfall, and my parents’ voices in quiet conversation as I fell asleep.

Its eyes read life-altering words, beheld soul-stirring sights, and memorized the faces of loved ones so well that in dreams I see them still.

My mother nurtured my body; my father sang to it; my siblings made fun of it; and my boyfriends pursued it. It never knew the pain and joy of giving birth, but it held grandchildren close and cherished each one.

When younger, I was proud of my body’s strengths, surprised by its resilience, and embarrassed by its shortcomings. During the last decade, I grew in wisdom, and I now appreciate my body in its entirety even as its abilities fade.

What marvelous  machines we inhabit; they do so much and ask for so little: sleep, nutrition, movement, prudent use, and timely medical care.

We need to appreciate and nourish our bodies.

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34 thoughts on “Our Incredible Bodies

      • I like your thought, “I’m humbled by the way it keeps trying,” because that’s exactly how I feel about my body. I regret that I ever spent a moment not liking something about it, though such thoughts were passing and few.

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      • I can’t walk very well and that was the biggest pleasure my body and I shared. We loved to run and hike and climb hills. For now we ride a stationary bike and do yoga (hoping for better things as a reward in the future, but not sure they will come). The other day I noticed my body had developed better capabilities because of all this. I was very thankful for that. The last few years of my life have been involuntarily pretty sedentary and overcoming that will, I know, take a while. But now we can ride as “far” in 20 as we could in 40 two months ago and there are other things. I think sometimes I wish I’d been more careful of it, but it seems to think that we just had a hell of a good time for many years. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • From reading your wonderful blog, I knew your frustrations with being unable to run, hike, and climb, Martha. But from your blog and this comment, I also know you are doing what you need to do to be able to resume the activities that give you so much pleasure even if in some modified form. I admire you. It takes courage and determination to keep going.The last sentence in this comment captures what I wanted to say in my post, that my body and I “had a hell of a good time.” Thanks for commenting and sharing yourself so openly.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. This is such a cool post. I can use “cool” without concern with someone who talks about “buttermilk and Creedance Clearwater Revival” in the same sentece. It sounds like you’ve had an interesting 72 years. Good luck with the ones to follow.

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  2. My first thought as I finished reading this, “I love her.” I truly do, even though I have not physically met you, I just feel true admiration and love for you.
    i love the perspective in this piece, I never think of my body this way, as a participant in my mad adventures and dreams and yet, it is! And I totally agree, maybe remaining in plank pose isn’t the smartest thing I have asked my durable body to endure…I might think twice about that next time I get that crazy idea in my head.

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  3. And,…..my first thought is “I totally agree with Carrie” minus the yoga plank thing. Janet, this post is so delightful, so thoughtful in it’s gratitude, and so you.
    I owe my body an enormous apology as it’s been much kinder to me, while I’m often thoughtless about it’s well-being.

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    • Funny, Mary, I thought this post was really me as well. It was one that flowed easily as soon as I had the idea. I think most of us didn’t realize that we needed to consider our bodies, because when we’re younger, they so effortlessly obey us.

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  4. Beautiful post Janet, which I will savor…I too banged the outer shell about a bit much, when I think of the wonderful places my legs took me, and the scars I bear…What a ride! Thanks bod.

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  5. How enjoyable to read about your journey! The human body schematics stimulate memories of my college classes in anatomy and physiology.. sue
    womenlivinglifeafter50.com

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  6. In this age of technology sometimes I wish your blog had a “like” button. You say it so well all I really need to say is I “liked” the way you said it. Thanks Janet.

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    • Oh, Jeannie, how about I always assume you like my blog. Every time I hit publish, I’ll think, “Jeannie’s going to like this one!” Another option: if you enter my blog through Facebook, you can always like it there.

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    • Hi Janet.
      I was hiking with my dog and fell downhill. I extended my right arm and jammed it on a very large rock—must have hit that rock at just the wrong angle. So no, I’m not infallible after all, gosh darn it. Sure wish I was though!
      Thanks for asking.

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