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.