11 reasons to love your body

1. The Brain
My favorite body part is the brain, that shiny mound of being, that mouse gray parliament of cells, that dream factory, that petit tyrant inside a ball of bone, that huddle of neurons calling all the plays, that little everywhere, that fickle pleasure dome, that wrinkled wardrobe of selves stuffed into the skull like too many clothes into a gym bag. The neocortex has ridges, valleys, and folds because the brain kept remodeling itself though space was tight. We take for granted the ridiculous-sounding-yet-undeniable fact that each person carries around atop her body a complete universe in which billions of sensations, thoughts, and desires stream. They mix privately, silently, while agitating on many levels, some of which we’re not aware of, thank heavens. If we needed to remember how to work the bellows of the lungs or the writhing python of digestion, we’d be swamped by formed and forming memories, and there’d be no time left for buying cute socks. My brain likes cute socks. But it also likes kisses. And asparagus. And watching boat-tailed grackles. And biking. And drinking Japanese green tea in a rose garden. There’s the nub of it—the brain is personality’s whereabouts. It’s also a stern warden and, at times, a self-tormentor. It’s where catchy tunes snag and cravings keep tugging. A hand-me-down miracle is that we are living things made of nonliving parts. Our brain is a crowded chemistry lab, bustling with nonstop neural conversations. It’s also an impersonal landscape where minute bolts of lightning prowl and strike. A hall of mirrors, it can contemplate existentialism, the delicate hooves of a goat, and its own birth and death in a matter of seconds. It’s blunt as a skunk and a real gossip hound, but also voluptuous, clever, playful, and forgiving. For all those reasons, and because it’s shaped a little like a loaf of French country bread, it’s my favorite companion.
—Diane Ackerman
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