When asked about the one thing I'm most thankful for, at first it's difficult to choose. I'm grateful for so much -- everything from the people in my life like my family and friends, to the small stuff like the colorful flowers I saw on my walk this morning. But when it comes down to it, I realize I would have nothing to be thankful for without my body and its physical existence here on earth.
No, I'm not talking about having a hot, sexy "bod," but rather having a healthy body that can function optimally. That means it can heal when it's sick, move and perform everyday tasks, reach athletic peaks and be at my beck and call 24 hours a day.
The body is an incredibly complex organism that allows me to enjoy life to the fullest and for that, I'm extremely grateful. My legs get me to where I need to be, whether that's by foot, on a bike, rollerblades or whatever mode of transportation I choose. My hands effortlessly perform hundreds of intricate tasks each day from chopping vegetables to threading a needle to getting dressed. My five senses bring me delicious tastes, beautiful sites, soothing music, sensual feelings and fragrant aromas. My hair keeps me warm, and my skin keeps me protected.
Consider these facts about the human body:
- On average, your body takes about 16 breaths per minute, 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 breaths a day, 8,409,600 a year. A person who lives to 80 years old will take about 672,768,000 breaths in a lifetime.
- Your heart beats about 100,000 times a day and about 35 million times a year. During an average lifetime, the human heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times.
It's easy to take your body for granted. You don't know what you're missing until -- well -- you're missing it! If you've ever been hurt or sick, you know what I mean. When my hand was in a cast for six weeks after surgery, I felt useless. I needed help to attend to my everyday tasks from washing my hair to making tea. Have you ever tried to pull your pants up with one hand? Aside from this personal experience, having lived through a decade of my mother being ill and incapacitated, I saw first hand how life and livelihood could change in an instant when your body is not functioning.
My mother spent the last ten years of her life after a brain tumor operation in an out of hospitals. She was non-ambulatory and needed a tracheotomy to breathe and a stomach tube to eat. Once a skilled seamstress and excellent cook, she could no longer control motions in her hands, read a newspaper, brush her teeth, put on her make-up, bathe, eat a meal or get up and dance (something she used to love to do). She needed 24-hour assistance to do the things most people don't even think about. And as bad as all of that seems, there were many people in those hospitals who were in worse shape than my mother. Seeing what others endured made me appreciate my body even more.
I think of my body as my vehicle for this lifetime -- a vehicle that can't be replaced or traded in like a used car. It needs to be nourished with whole, healthy foods and exercised daily. So, I don't just give thanks to my body with lip service, but with active service by taking care of it with good nutrition and movement every day. It seems like that's the least I could do for something that supports me every second of my life here on earth.
This blog post is part of a series for HuffPost Gratitude, entitled 'The One Thing I'm Most Thankful For.' To see all the other posts in the series, click here To contribute, submit your 500 - 800 word blogpost to firstname.lastname@example.org.