If I had to point out the best thing about my science degree, it wouldn’t be the long labs or the never-ending anatomy terms or the 8AM lectures in the freezing cold morning. It would be the wonder I finally have about my body.
In lectures, we are taught to see ourselves as machines. We have learnt to break down our body into small parts: neuro, cardio, musculoskeletal and so many others. We pinpoint our every breath down to the gas exchange in our alveoli. Our everyday existence is converted into textbook jargon until every minuscule detail you didn’t even think could impact your quality of life actually does.
It’s been a tough lesson, but I think I finally got it. I finally understand the narrow, fragile conditions that enable me to survive, to draw breath. For all my poetry and fanciful phrases, I never really saw life as large as when I had to see it small. There are millions upon millions of reasons why you should not be here, why you should fail in your daily functions. And yet, despite all the odds, we beat them every day and we survive and perhaps even excel.
As I sit here, I hear my heart. It’s quiet and so unassuming we have all forgotten we have them at many points of our lives. Every shudder of circulation demonstrates the rushing of blood from heart chamber to heart chamber and the careful navigation of my blood cells along the microscopic map of my blood vessels. Every time I twitch my toe, action potentials race from my brain down to the axon terminals of my feet to make it happen. It’s a split second and it traveled my entire height. I blink and some cells have died while others have been generated.
This is the miracle. You are the miracle. You are the absolute, improbable combination of sperm and egg that resulted in a fully functional being descended from years of evolution. This is the physical part of your miracle, and certainly not the last. It’s made me so happy, the knowledge of my miracle, because finally I don’t dwell so much on things that are supposed to be aesthetically displeasing. How could a round belly or stretch marks compete with your glomerular filtration in your kidneys or cross-bridge formation in your muscle fibers?
It’s easy to forget your miracle and the unlikely combination of tissue and chance that have made you possible. But you have been made possible and you wonder how the careful engineering of your bodily system could ever have been regarded as anything less than perfect.