I just learned the basics of the human cardio-pulmonary system, and that information has me in awe that I am alive.
For every minute of the last 24 years, my heart has worked constantly to pump oxygen-needy blood to my lungs, then bring it back--bright red and full of life--and send it all the way to the very tips of my fingers and toes. Then it starts the cycle all over again.
This muscle is genius.
My choice and consciousness have nothing to do with the process. It just happens, and it has just been happening absolutely perfectly since before I was born. Thank you, dear heart. You're doing a great job. At beating.
One time I put on my mom's stethoscope and listened to my own heart. It was jarring; that unfamiliar, quick, regular little drum I got to hear. My vitality in a sound I could plug into my ears, like a song on my ipod or something.
Hearing someone else's heart is a trip, too. It's an intimate thing. Only the privileged get listening access to that sacred rhythm. My friend Laura is a nurse, and she had a patient whose wife grew worried when she leaned her head against her husband's chest and noticed that his heart beat sounded didn't sound the same as it usually did. He went to the hospital and found out that he needed an immediate quadruple bi-pass surgery.
I love that story.