February 23, 2011
Yesterday, I introduced you to Ron, the jack of all trades, who maintains my house in excellent condition. I failed to mention that he is also my mentor. Ron is teaching me to build furniture. We’ve completed four pieces and I am pleased with how good they look. They are a piece of art!
Ron’s hands are a piece of art as well. They are the ugliest, but most beautiful things you will ever see. Confused? Let me explain. Our hands are mechanical devices used to accomplish a great deal of tasks. Ron’s hands are full of callus, thickened areas of skin. At first sight, calluses are not esthetically pleasing. However, when you realize why he has them, they are one of the wonders of nature. Ron’s hands work in a hostile, even violent, environment. If I did what he does on a daily basis, my soft doctor’s hands would be fully of blisters and infection. Ron’s body, in response to the demands of his profession, has created a protective exoskeleton to safe guard his wellbeing. The ability to modify and create new structure in response to a change in environment is one of our body’s greatest gifts and, therefore, is beautiful.
So what does this have to do with you? When you are on a treadmill or jogging outside, your body does not know you are doing it because you like it or because I told you to. Your body thinks something is chasing you or that you are foraging for food in order to survive (or propagate). Your body will make new blood vessels, muscle and bone so that you can get away from whatever threat you are running from or so that you can find food for you and your family. When you are lifting weights, it thinks you are climbing to get to the fruit at the top of the tree or get away from the lion at the bottom of the tree. The imperative is to survive and you can recreate yourself by physically stressing yourself.
The opposite is unfortunately true. When you sit at your desk all day, in an environmentally controlled 72 degree temperature with constant fluorescent sunlight and a steady influx of food, your body thinks everything is great. When everything is great, your body stores fat. Fat storage is essential so that, when winter arrives, you can go into the cave and hibernate. Winter never comes. We get fat and out of shape and have our heart attacks. No wonder 25% of Americans are on statins, medications to reduce cholesterol and stop heart disease.
Take a lesson from Ron’s hands. Convince your body that things are not great, that you live in a dangerous environment. Convince it to morph into a lean, mean, fighting machine! Live long and share in the wonders of the human body.