Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Blood, Sweat and Tears - Part I

"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." - Winston Churchill

Blood. Sweat. Tears. Three fundamental human elements. Three things that we make, that we create. Three things that make us what we are- human.

For some reason, this old phrase came to my mind today. There really is no reason for the way my mind works. If I tried to explain it, I would just end up confusing us both and it would be pretty much useless to my current purpose. I decided, in my usual instantaneous and haphazard fashion, that I would split up the three things in this phrase- blood, sweat and tears. (Be warned, I will repeat those words again... and again... and probably again. So get used to them.) I would take each one and give it a little thought. Roll it around in my mind and see what I could come up with. Feel free to add your own thoughts in a comment. We have been trained to think in narrow boxes and I, for one, am pretty sure that there is more in this world than my own box and I should get out a little more, at least in my mind.


Wiki says that "Blood is a specialized bodily fluid that delivers necessary substances to the body's cells – such as nutrients and oxygen – and transports waste products away from those same cells."

Well isn't that a nice, boring definition. But if you are as bad at remembering biology as I am, it was for your benefit. Blood... what is blood? In a deeper sense, blood is life. Without blood, you and I would not, could not work. Our bodies need blood to do all the amazing, confusing and thoroughly mysterious things they do.

Have you ever looked at you hand in absolute astonishment? I have. "What the heck... how does this thing even work...?" We could talk about the wonders of human construction for hours... but I am obviously not an expert and I have a topic at hand and I will not be swayed. Look at the strange thing connected to the end of your own arm. Yes, really. Don't pretend you did and just keep reading. Got it? Alright. See those bluish purple lines underneath the knuckles on your palm and on your wrist? Of course you do. They're called veins. Yes, I know you know that, bare with me. Underneath several layers of skin are tons of tiny little veins, a maze of rivers carrying blood, carrying life through your body. You knew that too. But how often do you think about it? How often do you remember that "specialized body fluid" that "delivers the necessary substances to your cells"?

If you answered "Um... not often, if ever." don't feel bad. I did too. We take it for granted.

But when do we remember blood? Not when it's doing it's job perfectly and normally, of course. No, we remember it when it isn't working right. When you get a cut, you remember your blood. Because suddenly, what works in secret, hidden and behind the scenes, is made visible. Heck yes, you'd better believe it's visible. The second it leaves those little rivers, it turns that beautiful, scarlet red. (I love that blood is red. Because if blood is life, I would like to think life is a vibrant color.) We're automatically alarmed by blood leaving our bodies... and since blood is a big part of what gives you life, it makes sense to try not to lose it.

If you have a disease like cancer or some other illness, you remember your blood. Do you know how many tests are done with blood samples? Me neither. But it's a big number. Your blood is full of information, if something is not right in your body, you can bet there are probably some clues in your blood. When something is wrong with your blood... it's like the very thing that keeps you alive has turned against you. The one thing you need more than anything is endangering you. Can you imagine that? I cannot.


You know how when you curl up and lay still, you can feel your heartbeat?

I love that.




You know what is beating? Yes, it is your heart. But what is beating in your heart? But what is your heart beating?


Blood is not only what we are, it is who we are. We are human. (Humanity is a what, a who, a when and a why in and of itself if you ask me.)

"It's in my blood."

We identify ourselves by what is in our blood, where we came from and who we are. It not only gives us life, it defines our lives.

"All I have to offer is my blood..."

If you are made of blood, if you are blood, then what is a gift of self? When we love someone or something, we say we would give our lives for it. We would offer everything- we would bleed and die for it's sake.

War is war because we settle things with blood. Brothers are brothers because the same blood runs in their veins. Blood is what makes the difference between life and death. It is the tie that binds and it's loss is what severs.

We do not take blood lightly. Nor should we. How can we, really? It is what are, how we are, why we are and who we are.


Blood in my veins, pulsing through me at every moment of the day. Beating in my heart, circulating through my body. Keeping me alive.



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