Dancers are another people who worship the human body. When I look at them, their graceful movements seem to convey a soundless derision; why bother how the body works instead of seeing what it can do? To convey complex ideas and emotions through movement in time to music. To push the limits of speed and balance. Dance is the an expression of our innate triumph of existence, we forget everything in the intoxicating delight of actions, for this is our chief characteristic of life: movement. It is wonderful what strange dances humans have conceived, and nurtured over time, building upon foundations with research and experimenting with combinations of techniques, for example ballet, ball room dancing, and classical indian. Then there are recent developments like hip hop and rap. Nations and people of all times had their own distinctive dances, african tribes like masai and kikuyu, north american indian tribes, remote island tribes in corners of the world, and then national dances like dragon dance etc.
All dances are a heritage of culture and a language beyond capture in mere words. Dance has figured as a part of religion and revolution, art and science. It is an essence of our fascination with our body and our egotism in our self as a specie and as individuals.
The human race has for long been very interested in the human body. After all it is unique as our own face, our identity among a multitude of species. Then again it is one of our most exclusive possessions, so much so that we never think about it. Most people acknowledge and are thankful for their health, others go beyond that to be thankful for features, but still fall short.
I think one of the greatest worshipers of the human body are doctors. The medical science is a celebration of the human body, it’s delicate workings, it’s beauty of form, it’s creation, it’s almost divine automation. There is an element of the quest for self in our obsession with our body. Anatomy which delves into physical structure, and functional adaptations. Biochemistry which does the same only at molecular level, discovering links. Embryology; just how does an ovum and sperm become so many diverse components of a whole. This obsession overcomes our natural repugnance of dissection of a cadaver, it leads to devising a hundred tests, physical and chemical to check intact function, and account for huge variation.
It is a tantalizing mystery that how does food translate into our strength, our movements and our life, our emotions, memory and ideas are a million tiny electrical currents in a most complex computer that we use unconsciously but when we try to figure out hows and whats we are scrapping at a mountain with a shovel. And how closely we are linked to this world of ours that the medicines and drugs derived from it make us well, or sick, or drunk, or a thousand other things. And still there are miles to go and many discoveries to make.
Sometimes our lives seem to turn into a puppet of emotions and worry. We seem to live from one task to the next. There is always an underlying tension, a burden of things that have to be accomplished. If we continue like this we are really headed for trouble. The brain is overworked and anticipating disaster, our body is in overdrive.
Once in a while I like to take a break from all this and for a few days wipe my mind clear of all the tasks. Sit still and truly taste food instead of eating as though my plate will be grabbed away from me. Stop in my path and take a deep breath. Evaluate if my goals will be actually achieved by this breathless breakneck effort. I often rediscover that worry is an obstacle. It interferes with your focus and ruins the present and future. Put your problems aside for a few days and rest your mind. It is wonderful how the problem if not precisely shrinks, becomes manageable at least meantime. We have so little time that it is important to enjoy in a stress free environment.
Biochemistry is considered to be one of the most challenging subjects undertaken. While most chemistry in general deals with strictly isolated reactions, substances and their properties, in biochemistry each reaction, substance and property is a part of a huge network that interweaves with great complexity. It is an engaging study because it is hypnotizing to see how each reaction is regulated, how a molecule performs specific functions, is activated or deactivated, and how each property fits like a hand into a glove for the function it has to perform and the conditions of the body’s environment while also being amenable to change. It is also a maddening study because it is a herculean task to memorize everything and very easy to confuse, mix up, or just plain forget the elusive details of hundreds of reactions.
It is only when cases present do we fully realize the importance of a tiny molecule in our system. Its diverse functions and its uniqueness and its exquisite teamwork with the rest, which seem to revolt in its absence and go off in a tangent instead of continuing normally. Diabetes Mellitus, Cushing’s syndrome, and rare ones like Tay Sach’s disease are all examples.
Biochemistry is truly a cue for philosophizing how life is but a delicate balance of lifeless atoms and molecules.
Pituitary gland is a really amazing component of our body. Situated in the skull, this gland the size of a pea is awesome. It secretes a total of 8 hormones, 6 from anterior pituitary and 2 from posterior. It is like a think tank that basically manages all hormonal regulation of the body. At the very top of the homeostasis pyramid the hypothalamus checks whether several parameters in blood are within normal ranges or not and pituitary stimulates the respective endocrine glands.
Apart from this day to day or hour to hour regulation the pituitary is responsible for long term effects that lead to growth, aging, sexual maturity. Here the think tank simile really applies. Pituitary gland changes its hormone synthesis with age, and circadian rhythms. All systems have their assigned duties but they wait for the go ahead from the pituitary which tells each when to do its work so the thousand little complications in the plan go smoothly step by step to completion. Apart from this it coordinates systems so they work in harmony setting off each cascade at the right moment, preventing antagonistic systems setting off at the same time in a futile circle. It translates the genetic blueprint into life, stimulating and inhibiting in different measures.
The gift of speech is generously distributed to all humanity. Coherence is logical and consistent speech, clear speech from which rational inference can easily be drawn. The gift of coherence is regrettably, not as common. Speech that leaves no doubt of a person’s intentions, opinions, or wishes is as surprising as it is gratifying in a world where people in the same conversation expound conflicting views without any consciousness of the incompatibility of said views. Even worse are people who meander like a sun drugged dragonfly without any indication of how they jumped from point A to B, and having successfully bewildered their audience to the point of begging for enlightenment they become impatient at inattentiveness or slower mental processes. Possibly in high pressure social surroundings people adopt this habit of changing opinions out of a wish to fit in with a certain group or because some opinions are unwelcome. But, in my opinion the gift of coherence is precious. Your thoughts, and actions actually make sense to others when you are lucid and even more importantly they make sense to you.
Genes do not make a person. However we might howl that, ” I can’t help myself…”, ” It’s in my blood (or genes in our enlightened present) ” and a number of other justifications the fact remains that genes do not make a person.
Twins are most often considered as clones or facets of the same personality. Most twins say that from being treated as a unit and moreover being expected to act as a unit actually creates pressure that causes them to act similarly. As children they consciously suppress impulses to act differently or alone. This fades away with time and most twins establish their own unique identities with ease as they grow old for well balanced children start to question their own inhibitions as they age and overcome them. So they make different choices, acquire different habits and polish inherent traits to different extents to become a distinctive person. The proverbial bond between twins also hinges more on recognition of these distinctions rather than the sharing of DNA.
It seems as though mother nature is amusedly playing with us, revealing tantalizing hints and almost joking with us. Our attempt to establish identity based on the human genome reminds one of a paradox that if parts of a ship are entirely replaced is it the same ship or not? The human life seems to be, if anything a passing spirit made of time, which works differently from all others. Humans are not cogs in a machine that work the same way. Each acquires a different niche as soon as a human is born. So a personality which has characteristics we might call virtues and vices is created by a curious mixture of environment, how we react and the choices we make. And our life is the same. We may not get everything we desire but if a choice is offered us we will chose what makes most sense based on who we already are. And the similarity of clones is only skin deep. It is our desires and determinations that translate our existence into the identity that is uniquely and truthfully our own. We can’t really blame or credit genes or offer them as excuses.