Last night Zach and I were invited to attend a preview of the "Body Worlds 3: And Stories of the Heart" exhibit at the new Leonardo in downtown Salt Lake, thanks to an invite from our good friend Alex who was instrumental in getting this exhibit to SLC. [Sidenote: The Leonardo is incredible and I'm so glad it's here!]
I have to admit, Z & I were quite squeamish about attending. In case you're not familiar with it, Body Worlds is an exhibit of actual plasticized human remains, many of which are posed in athletic situations, often activities that the person who donated their body enjoyed. The entire idea of it totally creeped me out and I was fully prepared to have to leave the exhibit early if it was too much for me, the one who is completely grossed out by a skinned knee or even hearing a Lasik commercial on the radio.
But I was blown away.
After all of those years of sitting in high school and college biology classes, I never fully understood to what extent that human life is a complete and utter miracle. Seeing the muscles, nervous system, digestive track and the heart, the heart!, up close and reading about the intricate things they do every single day, without us even realizing it, just completely floored me.
I'm sure it also struck me a little harder because I'm pregnant and like every mom-to-be, have been following the development of my baby so closely. Seeing that the heart is the very first organ to form and that it does so when a fetus is just four - six weeks old, and that it is the last organ to stop working, is amazing.
This exhibit is all that Zach and I have been able to talk about and it has also showed us in (once-) living color exactly why it's so important to take care of our bodies. Seeing a set of lungs that belonged to a smoker left 1,000 times the impact than any ad campaign, poster or lecture. They looked like a mound of coal. It was so very sad.
And looking at the obesity display was astounding. Thinking of putting the body through any unnecessary stress after all of the incredible things it does for us each and every second seems almost cruel to me now.
But for me, easily the most powerful part of the exhibit was that of the fetus. It feels so morbid typing that, but what happens in even just the first few weeks of development is a miracle. There's no other word for it. I've read and looked at illustrations of what happens after conception, so the information itself wasn't new, but seeing it in-person was. I was in awe of how quickly a fetus goes from looking exactly like a flake of instant potatoes (sorry, but it does) to having fingers--including fingerprints--and toes. In just nine weeks.
I was speechless and still can't believe that my body--the very one that bruises too easily, is clumsy and has a penchant for root beer floats and gummy worms--is a miracle in itself and is creating another one right now.
Find out more, and get your tickets here.