Monday, February 12, 2018

Notes on Resilience: The Early Heart

My former editor mentioned the possibility of a book on resilience, and I immediately said I'd be interested in writing it. [Even though I swore I'd never write for them again.]

Getting that assignment is a long shot, for various reasons. Since it's a longtime interest of mine (I blogged about "Learned Optimism" in 2010), I thought I'd start poking around more on my own.

I always like to start with etymology, and this word's provides a great leaping off point.

1. resilience (n.)1620s, "act of rebounding," from Latin resiliens, present participle of resilire "to rebound, recoil," from re- "back" + salire "To jump, leap" (See salient)

2. salient (adj.)
1560s, "leaping," a heraldic term, from Latin salientem (nominative saliens), present participle of salire "to leap"....
Used in Middle English as an adjective meaning "leaping, skipping."
The meaning "prominent, striking" first recorded 1840, from salient point (1670s), Latin punctum saliens, going back to Aristotle's writings

refers to the heart of an embryo, which seems to leap, hence, the "starting point" of anything.

3. The heart of an embryo?!

"The heart is the first organ to function within an embryo. It starts to function when the nutritional and oxygen requirements of the growing embryo can no longer be met by diffusion from the placenta." [about four weeks in human embryos]

This picture of a the heart of a mouse embryo [right] was created by Dr Laura Pastorelli at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR).  

The heart here is at the "looping stage". The organ starts as a single tube before looping round itself. At a later stage in development, the heart tube will fuse to form the four chambers of the heart.

4. The first sound we sense in the womb is the pulse of our mother's heart and blood.
...It is often said that the first sound we hear in the womb is our mother's heartbeat. Actually, the first sound to vibrate our newly developed hearing apparatus is the pulse of our mother's blood through her veins and arteries. We vibrate to that primordial rhythm even before we have ears to hear.

Before we were conceived, we existed in part as an egg in our mother's ovary. All the eggs a woman will ever carry form in her ovaries while she is a four-month-old fetus in the womb of her mother.

This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother.  Each of us spent five months in our grandmother's womb and she in turn formed within the womb of her grandmother. We vibrate to the rhythms of our mother's blood before she herself is born. And this pulse is the thread of blood that runs all the way back through the grandmothers to the first mother. We all share the blood of the first mother - we are truly children of one blood."  
-- Layne Redmond, When the Drummers Were Women
[Associated article on drum history, by Redmond, in Drum Magazine.] 

More to come.
I want to write more personally about all this (and more), but now I'm going to get ready for my interview to volunteer at SVDP.
That's a bit of conscious resilience on my part---I've been sad over a recent loss and decided it would help to try something new--to do something different. 


bink said...

That bit about being eggs in our grandmother's wombs: so cool! Never heard that before.

Fresca said...

I went to a performance by Layne Redmond, and she opened in a totally dark room with the recorded sound a baby hears in the womb playing---a hard-to-place thump-swish.
VERY cool.