Friday, February 15, 2008

Ode to the Human Body

After being sick for the past three days, it's time for me to celebrate how awesome it is to be all normal and healthy again. Here's three reasons to be thankful for the the way the human body works-- despite the times it fails us, there are some things we can always count on.

Subconscious breathing
Imagine how horrible it would be if, for instance, you suddenly entered a condition where the act of breathing was no longer relegated to your subconscious. You could still breathe, but each inhalation had to be accompanied by a mindful decision to take air into your lungs. You try to sleep at night, but as your consciousness drifts away, you are abruptly awoken by the horrifying realization that you are suffocating. Shit, even the thought of it is pretty scary. Thank goodness, the vast majority of our days can be lived with our lungs on autopilot.

A few months ago I was reaching deep into a freezer, feeling around for a switch that could possibly turn off the ice maker, when suddenly I was jolted by a sharp painful pain on my middle finger. It turns out I was burned (electrocuted?) by some sonofabitch booby trap that refrigerator makers preinstall just to piss off lowly saps like myself. It wasn't long before an ugly blister appeared on the victim finger, adding an extra challenge to everyday tasks as simple as using a pen. The blister was a persistent annoyance while it lasted, but as is the case with all minor injuries of this type, it eventually healed itself. Today not a trace of the injury remains. Imagine... How horrible would that be if such a trivial mistake were to give me a blister that would never heal, ever? That would be very horrible.

Yes, pain. Take the above example-- it was pain that got me to see my errors in reaching into a mysterious refrigerator. Without the wonderful gift of pain, I could very easily have been gripping onto that hidden bastard painmachine for several seconds, not knowing it was burning me until I later pull out my arm expecting to see a hand, but am greeted only by an ugly melted stump. While unpleasant by its very nature, pain tells us not to apply pressure on that fractured leg. Pain tells us to wake up when we catch fire in our sleep. Pain tells us to give them what they want when the bad guys torture us. Hurrah.


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