With nature's help, we don't have to think
By Glynn Moore| Columnist
Monday, January 25, 2010

Some days are diamonds, some days are stone. Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug. Some days ... well, you get the idea.

Even when it's the worst of times as well as the best of times, though, we can nudge the balance in our favor if we remember the little ways our bodies start us off on the right path.

One such minor miracle literally keeps us on our feet each day: balance. Our eyes, naturally, help us stay upright, but I'm especially impressed that when I shower, I can close my eyes to keep them shampoo-free and yet remain on my feet without reeling into the shower curtain.

How does that work? I have no idea. I'm sure my inner ears are working overtime behind the scenes to hold me steady, but without eyesight? Wow!

Let me state for the record that I am head over heels in favor of balance, and I appreciate that little favor from nature every time I shampoo, rinse and repeat.

After showering, I dry off while listening to the radio news in the bathroom and to the TV news in the adjacent bedroom. They are at about the same volume, but my ears can tune one in and the other out at my command, and then reverse the process with scant effort. All with no moving parts, so far as I know.

If my wife walks into the room and speaks, it gets a little tougher to juggle three sounds at the same time. Even if I do turn the two news reports down mentally and home in on her voice, she usually accuses me later of failing to hear what she said. Seesawing between just the radio and the TV, however, is easy.

In much the same way, our eyes tune our world in and out of focus. After dressing, for instance, I walked into the living room and looked out the window at the backyard. It isn't difficult to see that bird in the bare branches of our apricot tree.

Without realizing what my eyes are up to, I readjust my lenses to a place much nearer -- the surface of the window glass -- where a handprint shows me that a child has been looking out that same window.

I hadn't noticed that print when my eyes were taking in the plumage on the bird. I was looking through transparent glass.

Another imperceptible change of focus, and now I see neither the print nor the bird; I see myself staring back at me in the window.

The glass is just as transparent (and smudged) as before, but my vision is now stopping there and reflecting back to me. I see myself and the room behind me in mirrorlike clarity.

The bird, the handprint and my reflection were there all along, but we live in different dimensions, alternate universes. The three of us will never meet, unless my wife reminds me that what she had told me that morning was to clean that glass.

Our bodies don't lack for these subconscious saviors. For instance, what keeps us from falling out of bed while we sleep? OK, we've all done it once in our lives, but why doesn't it happen every night, considering gravity's tendency to drag us down?

Finally, there is itching, or, rather, the miracle that it leads to: scratching.

And scratching, of course, is an addictive pleasure that is tough to stop once it has begun.

In fact, give me my bamboo back scratcher and free rein, and I will put them up against your champagne and cocaine and never, ever again complain.

Stop today to thank your body for all it does. Let me know if you think of any more of these miracles; I need all the help I can get.

Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.

From the Monday, January 25, 2010 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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