GEssay About Importance of Body Care.The question “How much are you worth?” is not answered by discussing your bodily conditions, for your body is not yourself. It is your dwelling, but not you. It, however, expresses you.
A man builds a house, and through it expresses himself. The external appearance causes the observer to form an opinion of him, and each apartment bears the impress of his individuality. To look at the house and then to walk through it will tell you much of the man. The outside will tell you whether he is neat, orderly and artistic, or whether he cares nothing for the elements of beauty and neatness. If you go into his parlor, you can judge whether he cares most for show or for comfort. His library will reveal to you the character of his mind, and the dining-room will indicate by its furnishings and its viands whether he loves the pleasures of sense more than health of body. You do not need to see the man to have a pretty clear idea of him.
So the body is our house, and our individuality permeates every part of it. Those who look at our bodily dwelling can gain a very good idea of what we are. The external appearance will indicate to a great extent our character. We glance at one man and say, “He is gross, sensual, cruel, domineering;” at another and say, “He is intellectual, spiritual, fine-grained, benevolent.” So we judge of entire strangers, and usually find the character largely corresponds to our judgment, if, later, we come to know the person.
The anatomist and microscopist who penetrates into the secrets of his bodily house after the inhabitant has moved out can tell much of his habits, his thoughts, his capacities and powers by the traces of himself which he has left on the insensate walls of his dwelling. The care of the body, then, adds to our value, because it gives us a better instrument, a better medium of expression.
The old saying, “A workman is known by his tools,” is equally true of the body. The carpenter who cares for his saws, chisels and planes, who keeps them sharp and free from rust, will be able to do better work than the one who carelessly allows them to become nicked, broken, handleless or rusted. The finer the work which one does, the greater the care he must take of the instruments with which he works. A jack-knife will do to whittle a pine stick, but the carver of intricate designs must have his various sharp tools with which to make the delicate lines and tracings.
When we speak of health and physical conditions in discussing the question of your value, we are discussing the instrument upon whose integrity depends your ability to demonstrate your value.
Many young people think it nonsense to pay attention to the preservation of health. I have heard them say, “O, I don’t want to be so fussy! It will do for old folks to be coddling themselves, but I want a good time. I’d rather die ten years sooner and have some fun while I do live.”
I wonder what these same young people would think if they should hear a workman say, “Well, I have here a fine kit of tools; I am assured that if they are destroyed they will never be replaced; but now, while I am learning my trade, I don’t want to be ‘so fussy’ about keeping them in order. It will do for ‘boss workmen’ to take care of everything so constantly, but now I want to break stones with these delicate hammers, to cut nails with these razor-bladed knives, to crack nuts with these slender pincers. By and by, when I am older, I’ll use them as they should be used, but I think it’s all nonsense to be so careful now.” If in later years you should hear him complain that he had nothing to work with, would you feel like pitying him?
No “kit of tools” was ever so complete as is the bodily instrument given to each one of us. Its mechanism has been the inspiration of inventors; it combines all forms of mechanical devices; its delicacy, intricacy, completeness and adaptability challenge the admiration of the philosopher, the engineer, the master mechanic.
I cannot here tell you of all its wonders, but I would like to give you such an exalted idea of its importance that you would look upon it with reverence and take a justifiable pride in keeping it in perfect working order. I would like to make you feel your personal responsibility in regard to its condition.
You know that in the ages past men believed the body to be the individual, and they endeavored through care of the body to build up mental as well as physical power. In those days the acrobat and the sage were found working side by side in the gymnasium, the one to gain physical strength, the other to increase his mental ability, and each profited as he desired.
When men made the discovery that the body is not the individual, but merely his dwelling and instrument of expression, they came to feel less regard for it, and lost their interest in its care and culture. Even the early Christians, forgetting what Paul said about the body as a temple, began to call it vile, and thought it an evidence of great piety to treat it with contempt. I have read of one religious sect who believed that the Creator of the body could not have been the Creator of the soul, and held that the chief object of God’s government was to deliver the captive souls of men from their bodily prisons.
When men began to understand that the thinking principle was the real self and the body merely a material encasement, it was no wonder that they valued the body less and held mind as of great value. They failed to see that mind without a material organ of expression is, in this world, of no account. A great pianist with no piano could not make music, and he would be considered a strange being if he did not care for his instrument most scrupulously. Think of a Rubinstein voluntarily breaking the piano strings or smashing the keys, while he made discordant poundings, and excusing himself by saying that it was “fussy” to take care of a piano until it was old. You cannot imagine such a thing. We can all appreciate the value of a man-made instrument or machine; but the God-created body, a combination of machines and instruments of marvelous power and delicacy, we neglect or treat with absolute, positive injury, and excuse ourselves on the ground that when it is old we will treat it more kindly.
Melville says it is a sin to die, ignoring what is to be done with the body. “That body,” he says, “has been redeemed, that body has been appointed to a glorious condition.”
It seems to me we prize the body far more after its use for us is at an end than while it is ours to use. We do not neglect the dead; we dress them in beautiful garments, we adorn them with flowers, we follow them to the grave with religious ceremonies, we build costly monuments to place over their graves, and then we go to weep over their last resting-place.
After all, is it not life that we should value? Life here and hereafter, not death, is the real thing for which we should prepare, and earthly life without a sound body is not life full and complete. Life is joy, vigor, elasticity, freedom from pain or illness, enjoyment of all innocent pleasures in maturity as well as in youth. We have no right to look forward to decrepitude, to failure in zest of living, to lessening of real enjoyment because of coming years. Life should increase in beauty and usefulness, in ability and joyousness, as the years bring us a wider experience, and this will be the case if we in youth have been wise enough to lay the foundation of health by a wise, thoughtful, prudent care of our bodies and our minds.