Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lives of Ease

Yesterday the snow gods blessed the Greater Grand Forks area with 4-5 inches of snow. As I've written about in the past, I often ride my bike to and from work for a number of particular reasons. I also choose to shovel my driveway when we get any snow, both because I choose to and because I do not own a snow blower. I'll often shovel the neighbors' driveways, time permitting, but often wonder to myself if I am doing them a favor... or disservice.

If I shovel my neighbor's driveway, I might be considered to be doing a good deed, helping deepen the sense of community we share with our neighbors, along with selfishly getting in my own great vigorous movement. On the flip side, I am taking away an opportunity for my neighbors to get themselves out of their houses and get in some healthy physical movement. Take your pick. I choose to shovel as much as my time allows.

Shoveling also, to me, is like a nice long walk, where I can contemplate among other things, the pitfalls and needs of humanity and the rest of the world. Unfortunately the real needs of humans are few in far between in our current culture, at least from a particular ethnocentric point a view.

As I toss the heavy snow into a pile, my thoughts go... "In this culture there is ever growing obesity problems and non-communicable diseases (although this is arguable through understanding social network science), fed by the decline in physical activity, among a host of other factors related to the human greed for efficiency that leads to a life of ease."

At this point my intensity of shoveling has increased (a little angry rage is like a potent ergogenic aid), and I'll usually get my awesome neighbor, an older guy of 70+ years in age who maintains enough youth to be shoveling his driveway, to yell some words of encouragement with a motivational fist pump. My thinking continues... "I am shoveling this driveway, not so much for the removal of snow as I am for the opportunity to get outside, in my neighborhood, and fight the diseases of sedentism."

But then ask myself the question,

"Why do people buy expensive snow blowers (or hire out to have someone remove the snow with their scraper attached to the front of pick up trucks), that slowly help to suck away at the ever-decreasing fossil fuels (sorry I had to throw the ecological side of this in to this, but it really is part of the bigger issue here)?

Because they are lazy?

Because having the biggest, most expensive snow blower is like a peacock showing off it's colorful spread? ("I have more money than you, thus making me more powerful!" (and fatter and physically weaker! Hahaha!!))

Because a person doesn't have enough time to shovel their driveway? Because it's so big, because they have a 4 car garage connected to a mansion of enormous proportions, and they have to spend all their time at their job to make all that money to pay for it? Ahh... affluence.

Or... because Aaron is shoveling his driveway, and he's a fucking jack ass, and I resent him! (That's cool too.)

Removing snow with ease using a snow blower (a machine for ease), to be able to drive our vehicles (another machine for ease) up as close to our houses as possible, so that we can get inside to where the thermostat keeps the interior of our homes at a cozy 70 +/- degrees at all times (god forbid we should ever expose our bodies to any other temperature), where we can cozy up on our couch to watch lots of TV shows of people struggling to lose weight, get chosen as the next music star, watch other humans sweat in a sport, or watch people struggle in choosing their future spouse... intermixed with advertisements of things we should buy to... uh???... why the hell do we need to buy that stuff anyway?... sorry I lost track of what was going on... hey what's this?

If we could only see this obsession with ease, maybe we could become enlightened enough to expose our selves to a bit of physical unease which we so desperately need.... but that maybe that's asking too much. 

Heck you can get the kids involved, if you have any. They love to be out in the snow. Bury them in the snow, with their head exposed so they can at least breath. And ultimately, if the kids are out and involved, they'll know what to do to make the experience worthwhile.

Or you maybe people are happy with a sedentary lifestyle, and kind of enjoy complaining about all its' ill effects. That's fine to an extent. I just hope others can see this life of ease is having effects on the world at large, and at some point something will have to give. The funny thing is, as I alluded to yesterday, our solutions to problems such as those related to our ecophysiology is always addition, thinking that we can save ourselves from ourselves."

I finish my shoveling snow and get back into my car, to comfortably drive back to work... where maybe I'll exercise again. Oh the paradoxes. We humans seem as stupid as we are smart.

*hat tip to Deep Zanzarakiya for the pic.


BC said...

What I would like to know is when being lazy became desirable. When did being active become a chore? Is it our caveman instincts telling us to conserve energy, because who knows when we'll get mammoth and greens again? Or is it a social effect, where those with power don't have to work hard, and we aspire for that status? Great post, some of those ideas have been floating in my mind lately too.

Aaron Schwenzfeier said...

What I've read/heard and think, is that conservation of energy was very effective prior to the neolithic revolution... and we've just continued to make a good thing better... or, more likely, a bad thing worse.

It does also seem to relate to a power factor - utilizing slavery in many different forms; human and non-human.