As you may have read here, I was afflicted with pretty horrendous shoulder and arm pain during the holidays. Then, after a course of narcotics, and a couple of physical therapy sessions, and healing thoughts sent my way by my yoga classmates, I suddenly got better. Much better.
I was aware of the cessation of pain, and grateful for it. But I was not aware of my new freedom of movement. Motions that had caused me agony–turning over in bed, getting out of bed, putting on my shoes, hugging my spouse–no longer did so. So I just did them, as I always had, without giving them a second thought.
And that is what puzzles me–how easily those things came back, and how little I was aware of them. The minute that putting down the dogs\’ dishes didn\’t hurt like the dickens, I put down the dogs\’ dishes while thinking of something else. The minute my mobility returned, I took it for granted, and went on to other things.
Why did I? Why didn\’t I stop and bask in gratitude for even a single day? I think it\’s because I\’m human. I suspect that generations of upwardly-mobile ancestors have geared my genes to take the good for granted, and strive like mad for the better. A recipe for discontent, you say? I agree. And a recipe for progress, too, for better or worse.
I saw a TV documentary about the Neanderthals recently. Neanderthals shared a common ancestor with our species and migrated to Europe a zillion years ago. There they settled in caves and made nice stone axes and ate lots and lots of meat. And lived happily in the same way for forty thousand–or was it forty million (I was on pain meds when I watched this)–years. They were grateful for what they had, and saw no need to rock the boat.
Then the homo sapiens types arrived and started improving the cave walls with art and carving little figures of fat women out of bone, and pretty soon the peaceful, contented Neanderthals were history. Next thing you know, it\’s the Trojan War, followed by the Crusades.
You see what I\’m saying? Why can\’t I just be happy bending over without pain, turning over in bed without groaning? Why must I be thinking about painting on my cave walls, and carving stuff?