Ouch, The Secret of Life

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.


-T- said...

Here, here. I like that thinking.

Anonymous said...

I like your labels and I totally disagree with you. (Well, not totally, but that makes it sound so much more dramatic, don't you think?) I think that a person or people can definitely grow during a time of peace. maybe even more so than in a time of change. In fact maybe they can even be the same thing.


Colin said...

No! To grow strong and triumph, a man must forge his will in the fires of battle, and fight and bleed and tear asunder!

Actually, Lope, you're right. There's no law saying you can't grow in *both* periods.

Sharon said...

I like the lake and convertible part....or should it be motorcycle for you and kayak for me? Good theory any way....how does the yard look? Love mom

Anonymous said...

I really hope you're right about the "change is good thing," as I'm now working for a new company with an absolutely horrible reputation. Changing jobs is scary enought, but having it thrust upon you at 8:30 on a Wednesday morning is so absurd that it's nearly comical.

Maybe I'll just grow so much I'll never realize what I used to be, huh?

Love and hugs

BTW--After 17 days of being a non-smoker, I must admit that this was the most difficult day of all -- but I persevered.

Colin said...

Oh, Mom! I'm so proud of you. And I know you'll weather this thing expertly. You always do.

Josh said...

I once threw myself into a serious couple years of change (by getting out of an almost decade long relationship) strictly for the fact that I was too safe (and the chick was hella boring).

Too years of suffereing and pain, and the best times of my life followed. Sufferring made me capable of being in a real relationship.

With my xbox 360.

Just kidding. About the xbox thing.