I have a herniated disc in my neck, and pain’s been shooting down my right arm for about two weeks.
I’m not looking for sympathy. It’s just that this has been the dominant thing on my mind.
It isn’t a big deal in the Grand Scheme of Things because I have access to 21st century medical treatment.
Wolves would’ve eaten me by now if I’d lived during the caveman days.
I’ve read that you’re supposed to think of those worse off than you when you’re feeling low, and think about people doing better than you whenever you get uppity.
If I catch myself complaining too much about this or that, I remember a cousin who never made it past age 12.
Cancer got him through no fault of his own. I would’ve hated to have shared his fate, but it would’ve been worse to have faced what his parents faced.
This isn’t about pity. Rather, it’s understanding how capricious life can be. A single gene or piece of DNA can mean the difference between a full life and an early grave.
My mind periodically travels to dark territory, and I find myself thinking about all the Jews, Gypsies, gays, disabled people and others who were killed in concentration camps during World War II. The only difference between those people and me is the accident of birth, which no one can control, just as no one can pick which path a tornado takes.
At times, I’ve considered the 18-year-old men who were drafted and sent to Vietnam. The draft ended by the time it would’ve affected me, but I’ve imagined what it would be like to receive notice in the mail that my life belonged to the U.S. military for the foreseeable future. I sometimes picture bombs exploding and wonder how I’d react.
I’m a science fiction fan, so I’ve read a bunch of stories that envisioned what life could become during a post-apocalyptic age.
It’s not pretty, and the health care options are often the same as the cavemen had, if not worse, because cavemen might’ve had specialized knowledge about medicinal herbs that those surviving the fall of civilization wouldn’t have access to.
To sum up, I haven’t spent much time thinking about my herniated disc or the radiating pain while considering what others have faced in the past or will face in the uncertain future.
According to the book I’d read, the goal is to find the happy medium, the place at the middle of the Cosmic Seesaw, where you’re neither up or down but right in the middle, overflowing with calm equilibrium.
There’s no way I’ve achieved anything close to that standard, but you’ve probably learned a lesson: Steer clear of me when things aren’t quite right with my world. But if you happen to get stuck with me, imagine how much worse things could get. Just a suggestion.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.