In physiology class studying the lung, I had a professor who started reciting Shakespeare:
“O, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out
Against the wrackful siege of batt’ring days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but time decays?”
He was marveling that in spite of “batt’ring days” the base lung tissue of only one cell wall thickness (which is really thin!) holds back the world while it exchanges oxygen with the air. The poet was lamenting our mortality, but our professor saw the beauty in the body’s design where “rocks impregnable are not so stout” yet the body endures.
Surely time decays – our days are numbered, and we need to make our peace with that. But there is hope in the beauty of our design, and as Dr. David Servan-Schreiber so eloquently argues in his book Anticancer – a new way of life, “all of us have the ability to protect ourselves from cancer and to contribute by our own means to healing it.” There really is only one guarantee, as the poet laments, we will all meet our end, but until that time we are not helpless and lifestyle choices can foster a life of hope, joy and love. It is important to remember that the human being is not simply a physical entity. We have minds, we think. We have emotions, we feel and we translate these feelings into meaning. We are spiritual beings. Take time to marvel at the beauty of our design and to care for it with movement, nourishment and being proactive in healthy lifestyle choices today (not tomorrow.)