Our Bodies are just Recycled Parts -Mike Bredeson PhD.
December 10, 2021
If I told you that nature is breath-taking you might say, “sure, everybody knows that”. But what if I told you that nature takes your breath and makes it into giant squids, grizzly bears, trees, and mushrooms? It is true! Every time we breathe a part of our own bodies embarks on a journey that rivals even the greatest tales of adventure. How does it work?
To help explain let’s consider a car. Cars need fuel to move forward. Exhaust is emitted from a car’s tailpipe after the fuel has burned. A similar process takes place in humans and other animals. We consume food as fuel and our bodies take the energy stored in food to keep us moving! A byproduct of making energy out of our food is a carbon-based gas called carbon dioxide (CO2). Every time we exhale CO2 blows away in the wind, goodbye!
Before escaping in a breath, the carbon in CO2 was vital in the function of our bodies. There is a good chance this little atom of carbon flowed through your bloodstream as part of a sugar molecule, giving you energy needed to get through your day.
Your body needs little atoms like carbon for all sorts of things. We take in carbon to make the compounds of life- DNA, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, which are all pieces in the amazing puzzle that make up your body! When you first encounter carbon, it may be part of a delicious piece of pie, a fresh raspberry, or hidden away in a juicy cut of steak.
The same carbon atoms which flow in your veins this very moment belonged to something or someone before you. Sure, you may attain a carbon atom from the carrot you ate for lunch, but have you ever thought about the long and fascinating history of that carbon before it was a part of a carrot?
It is possible that one of your carbon atoms belonged to Martin Luther King Jr. and left him during a pause in his, “I have a dream” speech. Perhaps that same carbon atom spent some of its life as part of a giant squid, gliding in the dark ocean depths, and before that, the same atom may have strengthened the bones of a towering dinosaur. Maybe the carbon, in your next breath, will drift around the world and in a week’s-time become part of a shady tree that people will relax under for centuries.
Our bodies are made up of more than just carbon. Nitrogen, potassium, oxygen, and many other elements intermingle with each other, forming compound structures which build your cells, muscles, heart, eyes, and everything that makes you a human.
As our skin is replaced and old skin cells float away in the breeze, when we go to the bathroom, when our hair falls away, when we die, the atoms that leave us are not lost and will not be wasted. Instead, all the little building blocks which, for a moment in time made you human, will be gladly accepted by nature and recycled into something just as amazing as yourself.
It may not appear so, but, the human body, trees, grass, dogs, dinosaurs, bacteria, are all part of a swift and ancient river of atoms whose flow touches Earth’s every corner. Where will you go, and what have you been? Next time you’re in need of a getaway, sit back, take a deep breath, and let your mind travel with the small bits of yourself to places near and far.