Of Life

Posted 3/30/22

SLICES BY JILL PERTLER An amazing body In the last year, I’ve been working on appreciation. Appreciating the big things. Appreciating the small things. Appreciating what I have and what I am. As …

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Of Life




An amazing body

In the last year, I’ve been working on appreciation.

Appreciating the big things. Appreciating the small things. Appreciating what I have and what I am. As part of that, I’ve been practicing appreciation of one of the most basic, most taken for granted and one of the most awesome things we all possess.

Our bodies.

In developing an appreciating for my own body and all the things it does, I attempt to contemplate the different systems, organs and the multitude of tasks that happen every second of every day without my even giving them a second thought. In this, I realize I’ve taken this magnificent entity of my physical body for granted for far too long.

The things it does are nothing short of miraculous and worth writing about. Let’s hit the highlights.

We breathe – in and out – every minute of the day. Our lungs take in air, filter out the oxygen and then release carbon dioxide back out to the world. We could look at this as breathing in energy and breathing out waste, but carbon dioxide is not waste. It is the life breath of the grass, flowers and trees living around us. They breathe it in and (here comes the magic) release oxygen back into the air, which our lungs use to nourish our bodies.

I’ve known about this process for most of my life, but I never really contemplated the overall simplicity and genius of it. It’s recycling at its best. And we don’t even have to think about separating the paper from the plastic – or in this case the oxygen from the carbon dioxide. Not ever. We don’t have to think about breathing or converting oxygen, our body just does it for us, and in doing so keeps us alive. It keeps the planet alive.

It’s hard to top the oxygen cycle, but I’ll try. Let’s pay homage to the lungs’ life partner: the heart. It beats 24/7, circulating blood throughout the body, distributing oxygen and then returning “old” blood to the lungs to replenish with more oxygen. The heart – and lungs and pretty much every cell in our body – work 24/7. They keep on ticking even when we are asleep. We can check out and rest; they keep working.

The 26 small bones in our feet carry our entire body weight, even when barefoot. You probably know your fingerprints are unique to you, but did you know the same is true of your tongue? Human fingertips each contain more than 3,000 touch receptors. It’s likely they house the most sensitive skin found in any mammal.

Our skin is a miracle in itself. It helps regulate body temperature. It protects us from infection and the sun, among other things. It provides a protective cushion for our bones and organs. At any given time, our skin could very well have more than 1,000 species of bacteria living on it. The skin fights that off and keeps us healthy. It is a source of beauty.

Like most cells in the body, the skin is a multi, multi-tasker. Yet, we often don’t give it a second thought unless we get a cut or a bruise and then we may pay a short amount of attention to our pain, but we don’t fully or willfully focus on healing. We take that for granted. Our skin heals automatically, on its own. In a word: magnificently awesome.

I have more to say, but not the room here to say it. Much like the human body, this miraculous information doesn’t stop. Perhaps I’ll put more information together in the weeks to come.

We have a tendency to harshly judge our bodies. We are too fat, too thin, too wrinkled, too pale. We forget about all our body does for us, without our even realizing it. Maybe it’s time for that realization, and appreciation. Of your breath. Your heartbeat. Your skin. The way it all works together, not just within your own body but within the planet. Appreciate that. All of it.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.