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January 22, 2005
Well, we do have more red blood cells than you have, the policeman told me as we stood at the crosswalk together.

You do? How could he know that? Are the people of Denver some kind of master race? Or was he talking politics?

Yup. If you stayed here for two weeks, you'd have mroe red blood cells than you had when you got here.


Oh, yes, said Michelele when I asked her about the red cell count. Athletes from all over the world come here to train just before the Olympics, to build up their red cell count. It lasts them about two weeks after they leave. She herself was a different color than she was when I knew her at sea level in New York: pink, now. She had been a sort of allover beige.

Drink plenty of water, every third person told me. You're not used to the altitude. My curiosity piqued, I went for a trot in the hotel gym. What would Heidi the pacemaker think of the altitude? Would I fall over? But she was fine: I did sweat a little more. Back in my room I looked in the mirror: beige. Hair, skin, even the whites of my eyes. If I stayed here, though, I'd get pink.

A thrilling thought: my body will change in response to my surroundings. Its very chemicals will adapt. I am not a given: I can change and respond. My body. My mind.

And the spirit, too. Its icon is a bird, not a rock. It moves, responds, breathes. It can do different things in different places, at different times, for different reasons. We need not fear its changes, but stay alert and welcome them into our lives.
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