I noticed a cut on the back of my hand with a small amount of blood. A few days later, scar tissue had formed over it. Then in about a week that was replaced by a reddish area where the cut had been. In about a month, back to regular skin again — one wouldn’t know that there had ever been a cut there. All this was done without any intervention on my part. The body just knew what to do and did it, and voila, all better, just like new.
Which made me think about the body. How it often just knows what to do without my having really any say in the matter or any role. Breathing for instance. The body just goes about its business inhaling and exhaling, extracting the oxygen in the lungs, which is quite a feat really when you consider that the air we breath is only 20% oxygen and 80% nitrogen, but the lungs know how to extract that 20%. I don’t tell them to, I don’t decide they will do it, they just do it.
Hunger is another one. The body knows when it wants to eat, and it tells you in subtle ways but it does tell you. Don’t believe me? Fast for 48 hours and see who is really in charge — you or your body? And hunger leads naturally to digestion, which is all on automatic control, and then what happens to the waste from what you eat but don’t use — also automatic discharge. You might select what you eat, but the body does all the leg work from that point on — without any say so from you.
Sleep is yet another one. The body has an internal clock and when that bell rings, it makes you yawn and tells you in no uncertain terms that it’s nappy time. And once again, you just obey — there is nothing else for it. The body commands and you obey. And sleep leads naturally to dreaming, and the mind supplies you with entertainment for the duration of the night in the form of all those dreams. It’s like free movies — all provided by the body without any consent from you.
It makes you wonder who is really in charge of this ship anyway? It seems that the body makes most of the decisions around here, and you, well, you’re just along for the ride, a back-seat passenger in a car that it’s driving.
Yes, yes, of course, you do make some decisions, too. It’s not all your body’s game of tricks. You can decide where to eat lunch, for instance, or if you want to date that girl you just met, or what actual movie to see. You can make all these momentous decisions. But, meanwhile, the body too is going about its business and doing its thing while you are otherwise engaged, and will continue to do what it knows it must whether you like it or not, for the body has a mind of its own and it is in charge of the caboose you are riding on — not you. You are just along for the ride.
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