Our Bodies are Truly Temples

woman doing yoga outdoors
Last week my son started Veterinary Medicine School. As with Medical School, the quintessential class for indoctrination in the Medical Arts is Gross Anatomy. He is dissecting a dog; I dissected a human being. Remarkably, they are quite similar. In order to help him and contemporaneously restore my own misplaced memories I took the opportunity to dust off my thirty-year-old Clemente Atlas of the human body. What I discovered was both astonishing and unanticipated. First the bad news – I had forgotten much more than I had remembered. Second and far more interesting and uplifting was my reinforcement that countless marvels abide within us all. Each of us is a universe of infinite possibilities. To say we are complex, intricate, amazing, unparalleled falls so short of the mark that it is nearly not worth saying. Our complexity is ineffable. Over the past decade my focus in cardiovascular prevention has been on our bodies’ microscopic goings-on; biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, and organic chemistry have been my playgrounds. Each time I’ve learned something new I’ve recognized how little I (we) know. With all we appreciate, we have merely scratched the surface of the elaborate, multifarious activities engaging each of our trillions of cells at every moment of life. And that’s the microscopic. I had neglected the macroscopic: our bones, muscles, nerves, organs, and network of vascular tributaries. Looking at the visible is no less remarkable than the invisible. Do this now. Lift your arm to scratch your head. In performing this singular simple act you have activated countless neural, muscular, vascular, and skeletal systems. And that doesn’t include all the cell-cell communications requiring the activation of genes and creation of proteins as well as the intentional movement of made-to-order bio-chemicals as well as armies of cells. All this just to scratch your head! Try to imagine how spectacularly intricate are our bodies’ activities when there’s a crisis, say a pneumonia or deep wound to your leg. The coordinated responses of layers of participants in maintaining our health and physical prosperity become fully activated. These reactions are so far beyond our wildest imagination that I predict no supercomputer will ever crack the code.

Yes we can pound our chests and pretend we are gods when we clone sheep. The truth is, to god, we are no god.

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