Tuesday, July 19, 2005

the perfect body

taher and i went with my parents to the Museum of Science and Industry this weekend- they have this exhibit there that is probably the most amazing one i have ever seen. it's called "Body Worlds", and it features several human bodies, actual specimen, that have been skinned and preserved in a kind of liquid plastic. and they are on stands, not behind glass or anything like that.

sounds morbid, i know. but from an educational and intellectual standpoint, it is incredibly valuable. and you get past the morbidity pretty quickly when you are standing in front of a human body. a real one. and looking at what lies beneath our skin.

i saw muscles and bone and ligaments and tendons and BRAINS and teeth and eyeballs. i saw blood vessels and nerve endings. i saw organs. i saw where it all goes, how it all fits together, in 20 or so people standing right before me, with no SKIN.

i saw what an eye looks like behind the eyelid, and realized just how huge our eyeball are compared to what we see.

i followed the sciatic nerve from its beginning to its end and watched how it branched out and become thick again. i saw what a healthy liver looks like, compared to that of a smoker. ( i vowed never to stand around secondhand smoke again. oh goodness.)

i saw lots and lots of brains and hearts and cross sections of brains and hearts and i even saw what a hip replacement looks like from the inside!

i saw a woman, 8 months pregnant, with the side of her body opened for me to see what her fetus looked like inside her, how her organs all crowded upwards in her body to make room for it. i felt more than a twinge of sadness looking at her. i felt like the cycle of life had been interrupted, that it was unnatural to look at these two people, one INSIDE the other, both there in front of me, both dead. it was shocking to me. i stood and gazed at her for a very, very long time, and even when i left her i wasn't finished. i felt the morbidity of the exhibit as i looked at that woman, but i also felt the immense presence of god in what i was looking at. i felt very sad at the potential lost, but also reverence for what she was and what her fetus was. as though by just existing, it was potential met.

i don't know. hard to articulate such a swirl of emotions. but emotional is the word for it. this exhibit didn't take us to the cellular level- it made no mention of the galaxies and universe that is within each human body, etc etc etc. it stopped at the processes and systems we can see just by looking at a person under their skin. it was incredible, and of course obvious, that without their skin, it was impossible to tell what race any of these people was. we all have yellow bones and orange muscle :)

days later, i am still thinking about the exhibit and contemplating the different things i saw. having never taken gross anatomy or done surgery or, well, skinned anyone, i was in awe. and still am.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

let's get old

i was just forwarded a speech that steve jobs made at a college graduation, and as i was reading it, reading about his theories regarding how life is, i began to think about something that i have considered many times before.

i know that society is obsessed with youth, and that nobody wants to get old, per se, but i'm sure they're right when they say youth is wasted on the young. of course i won't appreciate this for at least another 20 years, but i am definitely beginning to understand that there is something i will have when i am 40 that i cannot hope to have now.

and i don't mean wrinkles.

i have heard so many women in their 40's say that in their 20's, they were beautiful and young with shiny hair and fresh faces, but they were utterly, utterly stupid. naive. they tried too hard. as in, they just didn't know who they were. they thought they did, but they didn't have the sense of self, the sense of niche, of belonging, of settled contentment that they did two decades later. i wonder if this is true of all us 20-something women.

not that i want a sense of settled contentment now. at 26, i'm not really looking for settled anything. but i do think that i have life experiences ahead of me that will constitute a coming of age. or many of them.

i am learning, recently, that i have a lot of choices when it comes to whose voices and whose influences i let into my being- and i am also learning that making the right choices, or the sane or wise choices, is something that in some ways, i am not yet equipped for. i thought the transformation from pre-college to college to post-college zahra was dramatic and significant- and it was. and i think now that it was only the first of many such transformations.

but as far as life after college, i think those transformations will be much more subtle. and probably much more significant.

i could be wrong- and i could be naive- but i am looking forward to the wrinkly days.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

old book list

my friend murt(a)z(a) emailed me this book list that i must have posted to FF eons ago- it is so weird! i thought once i loved a book, i would always love a book, but in retrospect i don't know why i would think that was true. you grow out of clothes and friends and music and hobbies, and i guess good reads as well....

anyway here it is, posted for posterity's sake- i have highlighted in red the ones i'd still recommend. the rest, not so much.

ZP's Book List
a prayer for owen meany - john irving
• anything by tom robbins
ishmael - daniel quinn
• the once and future king - t.h. white
roots - alex haley
• les miserables - victor hugo
the hitchhiker's series - douglas adams
• slapstick - kurt vonnegut (d)
• welcome to the monkey house - kurt vonnegut
• fountainhead - ayn rand
• atlas shrugged - ayn rand
• sons and lovers - d.h. lawrence
• try some short stories by o'henry
• brave new world - aldous huxley
an equal music - vikram seth (a)
the poisonwood bible - barbara kingsolver (a)