Posted by: HAT | September 25, 2009

On Stretching

A classic case of (a) contrapposto, (b) stenosis, (c) radiculopathy

A classic case of . . .
(a) contrapposto
(b) stenosis
(c) radiculopathy

Some people [how many? most? everyone? just a few?] are prisoners unawares. It is a commonplace to hear statements like “The American lifestyle is sedentary” or “Our lives are stressful” or “We drive too much and walk too little” or “We don’t eat right” or . . . the examples could be multiplied almost endlessly. How often, when a person hears something like that, does she think, he think, “Yes, but, what other option do I have?” “Yes, but, that’s how it is.” “Yes, but, there’s nothing we can do about that.”

Prisoners, meaning, trapped. Immobilized. Unable to move. Unable to escape — implying, out of one condition, into an alternative condition, out of one place, or “place,” into an alternative place, or “place.” Because it is never actually a question of no place.

People enter the various prisons or traps scattered around the landscape of the modern lifestyle voluntarily, at least technically speaking. Perhaps it happens, but probably seldom, that someone smokes her first pipe of crack, or his first cigarette, or drinks her first beer, or his first cup of coffee, at gunpoint. The first of the 102,200 cups of coffee that land him in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer 40 years later, say.

It might happen, but probably seldom, that someone exercises just a little bit less in a typical day, day after day, because she receives a letter in the mail threatening her with immediate death if she keeps moving just a bit more. (“We’re watching. So don’t be walking those extra 20 paces to the mailbox, stay in your car!”) It seems more likely to happen, when it happens [how often? how many times a day? how many times a minute? how many out of 10 people?], because she is already a little extra tired from the long day at work, he’s already just a little extra stressed out from the boss’s lousy mood, she’s already just sick of listening to Mom nag about homework and just wants to tune it out with something electronic, or something like that.

It just adds up. Hard water deposits layer like sandstone on the coffeemaker until the coffeemaker becomes unusable. Plaque builds up in the arteries. Muscles get a little tighter, a little weaker, day after day after day, not because they have to in the abstract, but because someone in a concrete situation lets them, until getting out of a chair is too much work for them to do. And someone lets them because, say for instance, the monthly report is due but not ready, so skip walking and get to work early, or because this job is paid by the mile, so need to keep driving. Because there’s a different reward for the person who says things like “I can go all day without a break” than for the one who says things like “I don’t let what my boss wants interfere with taking care of myself,” and sometimes that reward is getting to keep that job that pays for the needs of the body it’s ruining.

Holistic is the flip side of systemic.

Eternal vigilance is not just the price of freedom, it’s even the price of relative, limited freedom.

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