Gratitude Sunday: Miracles And Vulnerability

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “To be alive is to be vulnerable.” Madeleine L’Engle

Sunday Haiku
Rain foreshadows full
harvest moon, Friday. Thirteenth.
Presaging autumn.

Sunday Musings
What delicate and fragile creatures humans beings are. What an intricate organic network of systems we are. We are truly a marvel of biological engineering.

The tiniest parts, cells and neurons (and the even smaller parts in those things!), work together to build complex organs, which in turn form this breathing, walking, talking unit called our body. At any step of the way, from the point of conception when those two smallest cells of the body combine to make a new organism to death whether that occurs in utero or anywhere else along the individual’s natural lifeline, everything can go right or anything can go wrong.

We can think and learn because of those little neuron cells and the way they work together. We can over-think when those cells work over-time or when the cells go awry from over-stimulation, or fatigue, or emotional distress like anxiety. We experience emotions and feelings through those cells.

Or not. Sometimes the whole thing goes haywire and the brain doesn’t think any more, or remember what it used to, or react in the same old ways, but surprises us instead with non-function, or un-function, or duh-function. The body doesn’t cooperate, or feelings do a weird kind of override of the normal physical functions, an emotional hijacking, so to speak.

For all our science we are giving mostly educated guesses about how most of the human organism works. We have a subtly basic idea but the details are still escaping us. Science in all its beauty changes everyday with each new revelation.

The body is as vulnerable as the brain. If we are lucky we are one of the 25 percent of conceptions that actually make it to a live birth. Isn’t that interesting? That 75 percent of conceptions fail? Meaning 75 percent of successful cellular combinations fail either to implant in the endometrial lining that’s been prepared for it and spontaneously abort, or they fail to thrive in the uterine environment and spontaneously abort, or they die and stick around in their construction space until they are an infected mess and have to be removed, and some of them make it as far as escaping the uterus and die on the way out. Twenty-five percent of us make it.

We are miracles. Our babies are miracles. We are so vulnerable at any moment we might succumb to the final miracle of life, the end, the ultimate: death.

If we get so far as to be born, it’s pretty dicey out here. Not only can the body betray or rebel at any time with physical changes of full functionality to complete paralysis, the tragedy of outside influences can be inflicted as well. The heart that functioned perfectly well yesterday can have a blow out today (was that a weird flutter?). The eyes that showed us the way into the kitchen yesterday may be clouded and dim today (as she leaves the computer to apply eye drops). The tiniest speck of pollen causes an massive disruption in the breathing system (as she erupts with a sneeze). The legs that carried us all over town shopping yesterday can suddenly be entirely out of commission today (as she insists on practicing that salsa dancefit video despite the pain). The brain that was clear as a bell yesterday might remember nothing today (where the hell are my glasses?).

That’s just the body and its physical parts. The body and its physical parts also have experiences and reactions to those experiences, and those feelings can have an effect on the physical parts. It is an oddly intricate weaving; one cannot look at or measure feelings nor can one measure exactly how feelings affect physical body parts. One might be able to see beta waves and auras, but these are amorphous and no real measure of the benefit or damage feelings can do to the physical organism.

We are so vulnerable, the physical body, the brain that lets us function, the emotions that can affect function of body or brain, a failure at any point in the system is alarming. And because we are human, because we can think, we think we want to fix any anomaly in how the systems function, as if all our bodies and brains and emotions should fit into one small box, all the same. I’m hearing echoes of an old folk song: “Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes make of ticky tacky, little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same.”

We often forget to celebrate systems that function a bit differently. We stare at people who have to use wheels to move, or cannot move on their own, or who look or walk differently from us. We shy away from faces and bodies that do not have a uniform symmetry, or do not fit a cultural concept of beauty. We shun people who are not neuro-typical but who are nonetheless brilliant in their way, but we don’t bother to find out because they are different. We are often afraid of difference and afraid to show the vulnerability fear causes: What if that were me? Or mine?

Even if you are neuro-typical and all your physical body and brain function and emotional well-health is in place, in the blink of an eye all that could change. You could meet a wayward car at 70 miles per hour, or an active shooter when you are at the concert with your pals, or your whole town could go up in flames, or a hurricane could set a house down on top of you. In less than a second everything about the body and brain and emotions can change.

We are so vulnerable. We walk around the world like we know what we are doing while most of us are suffering. Our bodies are failing, we struggle to make our brains work, and we are so anxious about keeping it all together it exacerbates the whole issue. We are so vulnerable we often put on this facade, especially here in the United States where the myth of self-sufficiency rules, that we are well. We may be as well as we can be for us, and details are unnecessary. We might be just struggling a bit where time spent with a friend and a giggle can lighten us. We might be so freaking unwell we need “professional” help, whatever that is because I think our medical professionals are often doing their best to give educated and sometimes uneducated help; they are, after all, only human too.

As far as knowing what we are doing, I’m going to hazard a guess that most of us are winging it, making it up as we go along because humaning doesn’t come with a user’s manual. Because we aren’t given a user’s manual at birth I’m going to say winging it is the thing to do. If we don’t come with instructions we only learn what we see, what is modeled before us. Some of that modeling isn’t so great depending on their models and so forth. Which adds one more layer of vulnerability on us humans: we are our ancestors. We may not know the sins of our forebears, but they are with us, in us, in our DNA and our cells.

Many of us know how vulnerable we are. We must extend that understanding to every person we meet. We may look hale and hardy (or is it hearty? I’m implying both), but everyone we meet and know carries a challenge or a struggle, be it generational, physical, mental, or emotional.

With another holiday season approaching and in the spirit of the blink of an eye, let us take time through the year to be patient, and gentle, and kind. Step outside your personal box and take time to accept and celebrate difference, to embrace each other. We are all, every one of us, delicate fragile creatures, vulnerable, and as a community, a society, we are only as good as the least of us.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – I forgot to give photo credit on last week’s pictures: the two sunflowers and the pumpkins were thanks to Tina Carlson. The entrance to the university is always dressed up for orientation and beginning of classes this time of year. I love the contrasting textures of bright flowers against the brick wall and next to the cobbled walkway. The soft pinks in this spirea (?). Magic infused green air under the umbrella canopy of the catalpa with its long beans and leaves. Enchanted every year by the bright colors of rainbow chard. Mesmerizing yellow sunflower face.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria (2005, not rated), a documentary about San Francisco’s gay scene in the Tenderloin district and the 1966 riot at Compton’s, a well attended 24-hour eatery, a few years before the Stonewall riot in New York City. I found the title provocative, as there was little screaming in the documentary, but there was a whole lot of people asking for simple human rights to live their lives. * Mom’s Night Out (2014, rated PG), an overwhelmed mother of three arranges a much needed night out with the girls. Chaos ensues. For those of you who like labels when choosing movies this is an “affirming Christian” movie. I didn’t know that was even a thing, but then I’m usually behind the cultural speed by several years on movie stuff. Regardless, the movie was so meh I only watched to the end thinking they had to tie up the pieces neatly; they did, and still meh. * Heaven’s Prisoner (1995, rated R), with Alex Baldwin, Eric Roberts, and several recognizable women in a feeble action thriller. I’m not terribly dense but I couldn’t figure out what the title meant pertaining to the movie. * Binged through a season of Safe (2018, rated TV – MA), the secrets of a gated community are revealed after a teenaged boy is murdered. A bit on the predictable side but still an intriguing British mystery with a twist (that sounds like a tasty cocktail!) * King of the Gypsies (1978, rated R) with a cast of big names from the past: Sterling Hayden, Shelley Winters, Judd Hirsch, Susan Sarandon, Annie Potts, Brooke Shields, and an introductory role for Eric Roberts. A twelve year old boy raised in the old thieving, cheating, and conniving ways of the traditional Gypsy culture runs away from home for ten years to establish a more ordinary lifestyle only to be thwarted by his dying grandfather who names him the new King of the Gypsies.

Currently ReadingThe Most Fun We Ever Had (2018, fiction) by Claire Lombardo. A contemporary, multi-generational story, familial secrets are revealed. * Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness (2009, crows) by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. Anecdotes about urban wild life observation. Mostly crows.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Getting to snuggle with a sweet baby, who gave me a full five minutes before she let me know she was unsure how she felt about this old lady stranger.
  • Knowing how vulnerable babies are and not being offended when they don’t want me as I refuse to add to the distress of a little.
  • How soft baby skin is.
  • Every five minutes a baby will give me.
  • Loving littles. No matter how old they are.
  • The miracle of being born.
  • The vulnerability of being human.
  • The ability to think and have a bit of wit.
  • Taking three bags to Goodwill and resisting the brain loop that insisted I go through everything again and quadruple-guess myself, embarrassingly, while I was in line at the drop-off and two cars waiting behind me. My vulnerability.
  • Having time at the farmers market for a frivolous henna tattoo (the pool is closed and normally I swim right after market so henna would be wasted), and the chat with the young woman I’ve had the fortune to watch grow up, who is creating her own enterprising business, making and creating items for sale, and doing loving temporary tattoos at different venues like our local farmers market.
  • Delicious bread at the farmers market made from wheat grown and ground within five miles of my home and baked less than half a mile from my house. I don’t eat much bread; this was toothsome and soft at the same time – not Wonder-bread soft where it collapses the minute it gets into your mouth – and crusted with a variety of seeds, just a hint of sourdough flavor, and was so, so good smeared with butter. A real treat. Even stale. I couldn’t eat it fast enough to beat the stale.
  • My house being magically abundant. I wanted some binoculars to look at the crows in the neighbor’s trees, and the idea was nascent, new to floating around in my brain, I hadn’t said anything to anybody yet. Hubster walks in, opens a drawer behind me looking for something else, and lo, binoculars.
  • Hand picked Oregon strawberries. Hopelessly addicted. There are worse things.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Medicine, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Psychology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Gratitude Sunday: Miracles And Vulnerability

  1. Pingback: Gratitude Sunday: Healthful Addictions | Sassy Kas

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