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Jumbo Steps: Our biological ‘text messages’

At the risk of trivializing our species’ anatomical complexity, I believe that each of us (bodies, brains, blood and all) communicate with the world by sending out biological “text messages.”

Take the shivers, for example (a “text” we’ll all be getting in the next few weeks). Your body texts your brain, telling you that something’s out of whack — “It’s way too cold to be outside. Bundle up.” The message, sent in the form of chattering teeth, is received by your brain, which then instantaneously replies, “Hmm, you’re right. Maybe I should be inside… not running around in the snow… naked… like someone I know did last year.”

Our bodies get inundated with “texts” like these. It’s all just biochemical back-and-forth. The messages themselves don’t convey much, since your body is merely alerting you whenever things are out of the ordinary. The important part is what each message means — these are physical indications of how we mentally feel at that time. I want to tell you about two important “texts” I got last Friday.

I spent that afternoon with the DREAM club, where we hung out with a group of local kids for a few hours. We did the “Mannequin Challenge,” played tag, took surveys for the regional branch of DREAM and made “oobleck” (think gooey playdoh). I received my first text about halfway through programming.

We started off with the fun stuff but eventually had to corral all of the kids into a semicircle to begin our surveys. They began to quiet down, because the co-chair was about to give directions on how to complete the surveys. But before she could even speak, one of our particularly rambunctious DREAMers audibly farted in front of his neighbor’s face. Cue the text message.

Yes, I know I’m an adult. And yes, I know farts aren’t supposed to be funny anymore. But I completely lost it. I laughed so hard, my (nonexistent) abs started to hurt. My body soon texted me “start coughing!”, rendering me sprawled out on the carpet in one of those half-cough, half-cry laughs.

My body was reminding me to find joy and laughter in everything, especially the small things — like farts.

The second text I received was during the Spirit of Color show. It didn’t take long for this text to arrive: The first group had hardly just begun their routine when my body sent chills down my spine.

My body was signaling to me just how utterly amazing it was to be witnessing such talented Jumbos. I was in awe of my Wildermother’s choreography. A classmate from back home flawlessly led a few dances. A fellow DREAM club member took the stage by storm.

I couldn’t help myself from hugging them after the show ended. I literally had goosebumps for two hours. I was grinning from ear to ear all the way back to my dorm.

I’m making it a point to archive these bodily texts for when finals week approaches. Because, when finals season texts begin to pile up (“Your first final is tomorrow. Adrenal glands, get to work,” “The snow has delayed your ride to Logan. Begin the sweat-fest,” “There’s only one hour left of sunlight. Shut off ALL the dopamine!”), I will reopen the texts I got last Friday.

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