There’s always something going wrong with my body. Sometimes my ears itch like crazy and build up lots of wax. Earlier this fall my right wrist was really sore for about two months. Then it got better, only to leave me with a sore left wrist and then an even sorer back. I’ll go for weeks with a slight cough, a bad cough, a runny nose, an aching toe, or just a bad set of chapped lips. Right now it’s my right eye. The skin on my upper eyelid swelled up one night. I don’t know why, and of course it’s still here, coming and going day by day. It’s not bad. It’s just a tiny but swollen, nothing you’d even notice if you didn’t look at me up close. Who knows what it is, and like everything else, as mysteriously as it appeared, it will vanish in another week. My guess for all of these nagging break downs is that the more you use something, the more it falls apart. Take my computer, powertap, and bike for example–the main three things I use. My computer just broke down a few days ago. But before that the number ”3” key was being troublesome for a few months, but then got better on its own. Likewise, about a month ago the keyboard was being crazy and typing letters I hadn’t pressed. My powertap: in the last month or two the hub was being weird, the CPU had to be replaced, it wouldn’t turn on for a few days for some reason, and just recently all the batteries died, were replaced, then they all died again a week and a half later. I won’t even get into all the minor problems my bike has had.
My point? Well I didn’t have one when I first started typing, but I do now. When you’re training hard/working hard/doing anything hard or in excess, everything breaks down, even with proper maintenance. You just better be prepared to take rest days, since they’re the only thing that’s keeping my slightly swollen eye from completely falling out in a rotting pile of decayed flesh.
I saw the movie Avatar in 3D a few days ago. I was very impressed for a number of different reasons. Visually, it was the best movie I’ve seen in a long time. The plot was great. I enjoyed the story. But it was the moral that I thought was really interesting. It’s basically an extremely simple moral too. It’s been recreated thousands of times in movies , TV shows, and books over the last 15 years of my consciousness: Pollution is bad, greed is bad, nature should be cherished.
As I was watching the movie, I wondered if the story was making anyone else feel guilty and out of place. Nope. Like the main character, everyone else in the theatre was living their Avatar life, disconnected from the real world by a pair of plastic 3D glasses that would be thrown in the trash on the way to the parking lot. The woman behind me was so involved in the movie that every time something scary or exciting happened on screen, she would nervously kick the back of my seat. It was the only thing that was keeping me from forgetting my place, keeping me in reality. But she was so into the movie, I don’t think she heard or saw me each of the three times I politely turned around to tell her to stop kicking my seat. She was in the fantasy, living with the characters, climbing trees with them, flying, running through the forest. She was at least sixty years old, obese, with a large Coke and a bag of popcorn in her lap. Her husband was identical. This movie was about escapism and it was apparent the audience was too far gone to even control their own limbs. I have to admit it worked on me too. Throughout the entire two and a half hours, I only thought about food once or twice in the first half hour. After that, I was pretty much gone.
When the movie ended, I came out of my daze as I walked through the parking lot to our car. We passed a Walmart as we drove out of the lot and I told John, the guy Chris and I are living with down here, that I did NOT want to get into an argument about cars right now. A moment earlier, I had made a few comments as we got in the car, pointing out the irony of what we were doing after just watching the movie, and he made some stupid comment about people simply needing to do better upkeep on their cars to maintain good fuel efficiency. Apparently the irony that was so obvious to me was lost on him. And I’m guessing it was lost on everyone else too.
What bothers me is that it doesn’t bother anyone that we come into contact with plastic more than grass or dirt. I’m no different. Here I am typing away on a plastic keyboard while it’s a sunny day outside. What the hell am I doing in here? Taking a rest day. But why am I taking a rest day? I only need to do something that unnatural because of the way I choose to spend my life: doing something so alien to what I was designed to do that it causes my body to decay, muscles to deteriorate, thousands of unnecessary calories to be consumed, and ”rest” days to be spent being a recluse. It isn’t natural to spend five hours a day sitting on a moving piece of plastic and rubber on a 24-foot wide oil slick. I don’t spend time with nature, I spend time on something that cuts through it, sending up ugly power lines on either side–a place of engine fumes, dead animals, blown out truck tires, glass, and trash. I spend my days on the intersection where humans destroy nature. Clear cut forests, new housing developments tearing into the earth, and miles upon miles of pesticide-infested farm land. And what do I do about it?
Even if everyone in that theatre came away with the same thing I did, it won’t matter. Because not even I will go out and throw stones at Walmart, chain myself to old-growth trees, or eat a diet that doesn’t include animal products or produce exclusively from my region.
The earth is being overtrained. Like a cyclist doing too many miles, it has too many humans. Warning signs aren’t scaring us. We stubbornly ignore the facts. I mean, come on, there’s no reason to stop riding this week. It’s just a minor cold. I can do intervals today, my knee doesn’t hurt that bad. Yeah right. Without a break, it will collapse.
It’s on my mind, but it’s not the first thing on my mind. I have a goal, which takes precedence over everything else. Just like most people, I think about my own needs and desires first. This circle of selfishness can extend to family members and friends, but how often do we think about strangers, people in other countries, or even our unamed neighbor living next door? Answer: #1 I hope that A-hole gets what he deserves and ends up dead in a ditch on the side of the road. #2 We aught to nuke those evil terrotists (and take their oil). #3 I wish that lazy bastard would trim his damn over-hangnig tree limb. If we don’t care about each other, of course we’re not going to care about that strange idea of ”nature.” Maybe it’s what nature deserves. After all, it’s what made us like this. Competition between and among species is the basis for evolution. When life sprung up on this planet, it would have been much wiser for it to work as a unit, instead of against itself. If life can only happen at the expense of another’s death, eventually we’re all screwed.
Well, that’s all for now. I’ve got to go apply some ointment to my swollen eye. Hopefully that will kill anything that’s messing with it.
…unless it’s self-inflicted.