In anatomy lab, students are rushed into a room filled with about 20 stations, each with a cadaver highlighting certain parts of the body. We get 7 minutes at each station to identify arteries, nerves, veins, muscles, organs, and anything else we can find.
As I stand over the cadaver, my fingers holding an artery from the cadaver’s arm, all I can think about is how there was once blood running through that same exact artery. When I find a nerve, I think about the impulses that traveled along it; all the sensations that person felt because of that one nerve. This week, we will be examining the heart. To prepare, I’ve been watching heart dissection videos and it never ceases to amaze me how that heart, too, used to once be pumping away– How all these little components that are seemingly tiny and unimportant on its own, come together and somehow create life.
I understand the electrical impulses that are being sent to make the heart pump. I understand how nerves innervate muscles causing them to contract or relax to create movement. But there is something extra, something that science and dissections can’t explain… What gives us life? How do those electrical impulses turn into a living, conscious being with thoughts and ideas, being totally and completely different in each and every person.
Anatomy lab is like a puzzle. All the different structures and components are the pieces and when they are finally put together, we end up with life. But these cadavers have all the pieces intact (or they did at one point), but there’s no life. There’s a missing puzzle piece.
That piece is nature, it is God, it is karma, it is Buddha, it is Allah, it is life itself. “Then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” I’ve never read other religious texts, but I imagine, they would all have a similar verse.
One week ago, a few of my friends died in a car accident leaving us with an incomplete puzzle. Their bodies remained, but God took back that last puzzle piece. I don’t know why and I think we will question that for the rest of our lives until we, too, lose our last puzzle piece.
Or maybe, we’re looking at it wrong. From Earth, we see it as an incomplete puzzle. Maybe it is just God removing all the extra pieces, bringing home the one that only truly ever mattered.