I had the opportunity and the pleasure to check out a little exhibit called Bodies in the most authentically fake city I have ever been (Las Vegas). I was out on business a couple months ago and missed it by a few minutes after a late dinner. I am not much of a gambler, so I try to enjoy the scenery and seek out things that I wouldn’t be able to see or do in the Detroit area where I live. This recent business trip I was not going to miss it. I knew it was going to be interesting, but I was truly astonished! To see what this is really about you can view the website here: Bodies Website. There are some smart gentlemen that came up with a method to preserve the human body while removing the skin entirely using acetone and a vacuum sealed container (I do not completely understand the process as I am no chemist or anatomist). After the body is preserved, it can be manipulated to show a certain pose. Some are sitting, standing, and some are even in athletic positions. Most of the bodies are cut to show what lies underneath the muscle and tendons. Organs, bone, veins and arteries can plainly be seen. Also there are separate displays in different rooms separating different areas in the body such as the central nervous, circulatory, pulmonary, reproductive, and digestion systems. Some are vivisected (sliced deli style showing an MRI-like pattern).There is even an entire room devoted to fetus’. Seeing in person these seemingly empty, lifeless sacks of meat, gave me an overview effect on part of what we are. I say part of what we are because I tend to believe we are more than just these sacks of intricate, complicated sacks of meat. It is a vessel. My personal jury is still out on whether consciousness resides in the body somewhere, or if our vessel acts as an antenna to constantly download reality as we are able to experience with our five (some say six) senses. It brought home the concept of death in a very real way. Sometimes during my daily meditation sessions I focus on death in order to appreciate every breath and moment I have, but this is more of an esoteric idea in my mind. Faced with the physical incarnation of this idea is largely different. I had one of my best friends lose his mother this week and was reminded how much pain and loss comes with death of the body. I have been to many funerals and seen people dearly close to me in a coffin. Moments like these are painful and I feel emotions so strongly that the intellectual side is largely suppressed. Seeing these anonymous people who most generously donated their bodies to science, the tables were turned. My intellect took over, but make no mistake that emotions were also involved. I had a real sense of reverence and awe that kept washing over me. These bodies were human people just like me. They walked around, breathed some of the same O2 molecules that I have breathed, and were someone’s loved one, son or daughter, and friend. Clearly they do not use their bodies anymore and I kept wondering why I should be so concerned about what happens to my own body when I die. As far back as I could remember I have wanted to be cremated. Going six feet under to be devoured by bugs terrified me. But the last few years I have questioned this thought. Am I being selfish? What is the difference between cremation, donating to science, or being laid in the dirt? When you are dead you don’t need your body anymore. Why not donate all organs to help another survive? Why not donate my body to science so that others can learn more about how to possibly better humanity’s existence? Why not let the bugs and other creatures devour me to continue the natural cycle of life? After my father was cremated, my siblings and I took some ashes and spread them on his childhood homes lawn, some more went to our family camping property, and years later when I was ready to let go I took the portion I was given to the tallest peak in Colorado and set him free. I have had the same plan for someone to do the same for me. I think it is good… nay, necessary to question ALL our ideas and beliefs in this life to fully experience everything we can in the human condition. I usually think of my legacy as not what I physically leave behind, but how we affect others through our interactions with people around us close AND strangers. The people I affect, affect others, and so on, and so on… a connected web of humanity if you will. I like to think these donors continued their legacy after death by enlightening me and countless others with these same thoughts. So to you donors in the afterlife whatever or wherever you are I simply say thank you for letting at least myself contemplate some of the great mysteries of life and death.

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One Response to Bodies

  1. Doppler says:

    This was a truly inspiring read. I would love to go to Vegas again just to check out this exhibit! Keep the posts coming! 🙂

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