My back hurts.
It stands to reason that my back would hurt, as Penny and I did rake, till, clear and spread landscaping cloth over some 750 square feet of our yard this weekend, but I must say: my back didn't hurt yesterday.
No, I think I'll blame the soreness not on the dozens of heaps of damp soil and bark ships I heaved over the fence into the woods, but rather on this cushy Herman Miller chair here.
It's because I've been sitting down all day, sedentary modern office worker that I am, that my lower lattissimus muscles have become all inflammated and ouchified. On Sunday, you see, after an equally full Saturday of sweating and grunting and dragging heavy objects back and forth, I proceeded to carry out *another* full day of said trudging, and never hurt once.
Therefore, I have concluded, it's only because I *stopped* the manual labor, which my rippling sinewy muscles were rapidly becoming accustomed to, that I'm now in pain. Surely if I had kept it up, and pursued the life of Brawny Lumberjack as opposed to Ad Agency Pencilneck, things would be great.
In a similar vein, I've heard tales of farmers and other Outdoor Folk refusing to linger in air-conditioned areas for too long, on account of it spoiling them and breaking down their hard-won natural heat tolerance.
My theory on that is this: change is difficult. That applies across the board, whether we're talking about temperature acclimation or yardwork to deskwork or learning Burmese. Anytime you're going through a change, it's going to be harder than sitting still, staying same.
And nobody wants to do that.
To me this is good news, and here you'll have to forgive my clumsy philosophizing, but I think this observation goes to show the upside of hard times. If change is hard, and change is good, then -- ta-da! Hard is good. Right?
It sounds simplistic, but I'm cottoning to the notion nonetheless. Mainly because the results are so darned encouraging: anytime you realize you've been struggling lately, well, it probably just means you're dealing with change. And if you're dealing with change, then you're growing.
This even applies on larger levels, beyond the individual. I think most people would agree that it's been a pretty rough few years for, oh, humanity in general. Well, okay: so we're growing.*
*Interestingly, I read recently that when surveyed about the relative age of humankind, on a single-lifetime scale, people overwhelmingly responded that we as a people are a teenager.
Seeing this printed out it sounds pretty indefensible. And I'm sure a part of you is scoffing (scoff scoff scoff) as you read it, just as a part of me is.
Still, I think putting peace and growth on opposite ends of the teeter-totter -- one decade you're straining and striving, the next you're coasting happily along -- is a nice way to look at it.
Either way, you've got something to appreciate, and something to look forward to, right?
One last footnote: Charlie Brown once said that the secret of life was to own a convertible and a lake. "If the sun is shining, you can drive around in your convertible and be happy . . . If it starts to rain it won't spoil your day because you can just say, 'Oh, well, the rain will fill up my lake!'"
I've always felt he was on to something. I like his summary a lot better than the Nietzchean "that which does not kill me..." bit. I think the key is just to figure out what is your lake, and what is your convertible.
My back hurts.