Monday, July 02, 2007

Ten Miracles I Usually Take for Granted

  1. My heartbeat. The sound of blood pumping through my veins, letting me breathe, move, think, type, run, read, dance, live. This could also be "my brain," or "my stomach," or "my eyes," or "my little toe" -- the human body in general.
  2. Photosynthesis.
  3. Bread, cheese, and beer/wine. All of which required some primitive man or woman saying "Hey! Let's take this stuff, let it ferment for a while, and then consume it!" Bread especially amazes me, as it involves first grinding up the seeds of a random plant, then adding the fermented stuff and other ingredients, then figuring out how to bake it . . . So many little steps in each piece of sourdough.
  4. Electricity.
  5. The telephone. I just finished Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik, the second book in the Temeraire series, where Will Laurence and the dragon Temeraire go to China in 1806 and do not receive any mail from England for three months because everything has to be carried over land and sea. Also today I spoke to people in the U.K., Minnesota, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Brooklyn, in real time, exchanging up-to-date news -- some of it over cell phones, which meant the calls went through space!
  6. Flight. Also in Throne of Jade, it takes them five months to travel by boat around Cape Horn and across the Indian Ocean. On Wednesday I'll get on a plane in New York; six hours and three thousand miles later, I'll be in California. Deeply weird and cool.
  7. The Internet. Fifteen years ago, virtually none of this existed, and now there are communities for every conceivable topic, some of them connecting millions of people.
  8. People playing guitar. And other instruments too, but ever since I tried "Guitar Hero" a few weeks ago and took three tries to get through one Beginner-level song, I've been obsessed/impressed by people who play guitar: They can move their fingers into all those different patterns for different sounds! And strum at the same time! And some of them sing as well! Incredible.
  9. Language. You can read this and understand what I'm thinking. Enough said.
  10. Love and friendship. These people were at this place at the exact right time to meet me, and we said and did the just-right things to connect, and now I'd do anything for them. It's wonderful.


  1. =) Your miracles that you take for granted are really nice and I definitely connect with you on quite a few of them. I was just thinking about photosynthesis when I was lying on the grass in my friend's backyard today and I thought back to my Bio class last year and how insane-ly complicated the entire process of photosynthesis is.

    I also wanted to congratulate you on the Time Magazing quote and mentioning =). It must be great to be recognized for something you love doing
    -Zuha (met you when I was on vacation in Naperville last summer)

  2. Add chocolate to the list of "wow, how on earth did someone ever think up that??" Beans to fermentation to cocoa to sugar and butter and to my mouth.

    We surely live in an amazing world!

  3. I, too, like photosynthesis. What floors me is that I am a creature with its own self-run regulating system, of which I am not aware, looking at another entirely different creature, say, that chlorotic pin oak out the window, that has its own self-run system that is completely different than mine. And I'm like, How on earth did we luck out so effectively, to even come into being in the first place!

    I guess that turned out to be a homily but I'm not Catholic.

  4. Any of us who make our own sourdough will join with you in wondering how somebody figured out how to do that. Making the starter is complicated enough. Keeping it alive is even tougher.

    And anyone who bakes has to be amazed that somebody figured out how to take the yeast from the brewing process and use it in baking.

    Another miracle: BLT sandwiches. Whoever thought of that was a genius of the first degree.

  5. Quoted in Time? Well, it's about time...

    As for the miracles, amen, sister. I'm still awed by radio and television--waves traveling through the air--I know it's not THAT simple, but it's amazing...

    I'd add babies to my list...miracles of creation and of delivery...speaking as a mom of five...

  6. Guitar playing is very meditative. It's a little like typing, using both hands to make something.

    I'm always amazed by electronics. It's all so much magic to me. The internet went down yesterday, as did our phones because we have Vonage, and I was so lost. (I did get a lot of work done without any distractions)

    Written language is a miracle. Think about it. I can walk over to my shelf, open "Walden Pond" and there will be Thoreau's voice in my head. It's like a time machine without all the nasty side effects.


  7. Cheryl, you've named everything that has to be named! air, water, people who matter and stuff you love! amazing..

    and, congrats on being quoted in Time!

  8. If you like bread, cheese, wine, and beer, you should try that restaurant Kashkaval on 9th Ave. in Manhattan. They have GREAT fondue...a wine bar...oh, it's so great.