Thursday, April 14, 2016

I recently read an article about why some people experience an itch that cannot be scratched (or satisfied by scratching). It has to do with the signals in the cell that are affected by particular chemicals and how an imbalance of those chemicals causes the cells receptors to remain open, thus causing the sensation of an itch through the nervous system. Since the receptors remain open, however, no matter how much one scratches the itching sensation remains.
Our bodies are incredible. If we had to consciously think about all that is going on for life to be sustained, then we’d probably not live very long. And that brief period would be very uncomfortable since as we ignored some of the details in order to maintain the big functions, then things would begin to go wrong and our pain receptors would begin to scream at us.  Just the basic stuff of heart beating and lungs breathing would keep us busy, but add to that the necessity of how we think, that inside our brains there are neurons and synapses and chemical as well as electrical signals—imagine if we had to think of these things for them to happen and that we needed them to happen if we had to think about our heart beating and lungs breathing.  Let’s not forget, however, that the oxygenated blood begins an amazing journey through the body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to cells and returning with waste which must be delivered to the proper processing stations (for example, kidneys).  What if each of those transfers needed our thinking attention, just like the thousands and thousands of deliveries of goods and exchanges of mail that take place around the world need the attention of people who do that work?  Once the deliveries are made in your body there is a lot of thinking involved in cellular activity, like managing the chemicals that affect the signals in your skin, where you might feel an itch. And all of our organs are work zones with particular tasks—filtration, absorption, processing, waste disposal, security—yes, the immune system is the security system for the body. It acts to eradicate the foreign elements it identifies, whether from the outside or from some manufacturing defect. Yes, there are mistakes that the body makes (like the itch you cannot scratch away, as well as deadlier complications), but given the phenomenal number of things going on, it’s rather amazing more doesn’t go wrong.
It’s dizzying all that goes on.  And this just scratches the surface. Realize that while you’re reading this and imagining all the work taking place that you probably weren’t actually thinking about maintaining your own system. But that’s not unusual, since none of us do. We go about our activities and don’t stop to think about the herculean task our brain is conducting without any conscious attention to it.  We walk, talk, work, play, learn, fall in love, experience disappointment, worship, laugh, dream, argue, hurt, heal, sing, calculate, plan, organize, reorganize, exercise, dispute, relate, procreate, imagine, and everything else humans are capable of doing—mostly because we are not having to consciously maintain our physiological systems.
Take a moment and realize that you are a wonder, alive among wonders in a world of wonders.  Then go back to ignoring it all, since there's no possible way to really live if you're focused on how life is maintained. Just don't take any of it for granted.  Here's an idea: let wonder be an itch you can never fully scratch away.

© 2016 Stephen Carl

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