The other day I was reading (in The Sun-Herald’s Sunday Life) a moving extract from a book – Special – by Melanie Dimmitt, a mother of a sweet young child with cerebral palsy. At the end of that extract, she quotes an observation by Nia Wyn, another mother of a child with the same condition. In a memoir that she wrote, Wyn noted that:

“As we pass the running children who hold up their heads so easily, I realise miracles are so commonplace we barely recognise them any more, and near the circles of mothers anxiously comparing milestones at the school gates, I see how we live in a time where normal is never enough, and we are never full.”

The relevance of that to we older people? How often have those of us who are functioning well, physically and mentally, even if possibly not quite as energetically as a 20-year-old, stopped to marvel at and appreciate the miracle of something that most of us simply accept unthinkingly as normal: our body?

We have this amazing combination of blood, bones, muscles, organs, fat, each with their vital roles, and with a flexible covering that can repair itself when damaged or scratched.

And all under the efficient control of various organisational systems, including that grey matter that somehow manages also to know how to speak, read and write (in one or more languages!), appreciate and sometimes even compose music (of some sort or other), and work out how to do complex tasks (from juggling shopping lists to building machines that fly), while monitoring the five senses bringing in information about  and understanding of our surroundings, in which we walk, run, sit, lie down, rest, and get up again, as required.

And for increasing numbers of us in this still lucky and increasingly healthy society, all of this has kept on going into our older ages: 50, 60, 70, 80….and for some up to and over 100 years. If we had cars that were that reliable, the motor industry would go belly-up.

WOW comes nowhere near covering what we are.

So, the next time we look at ourselves in the mirror, rather than worrying whether that’s a new wrinkle, why not consider the extraordinary reflection of our face, with eyes, nose, mouth, flanked by ears, all features that are sine qua non (thank you, Brain) in how we can effectively take in the world around us, not to mention the food that nourishes us.

Whether we believe in evolution or creation, what we take for granted as normal is actually a pretty marvellous package that is worth consciously savouring the existence of, and making the most of in full awareness of what we have while we have it.

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