It’s funny how taking a trip like this can change your perspective so profoundly. To see how other people live gives your eyes a deeper way of seeing. It broadens your world and humbles you a bit as you see that your way of life is not the only way that works. It has kind of ruined me. I have had thought for quite a while about how ridiculous many things in our “American culture” are. After having been to another country, these thoughts are even stronger, louder and greatly increased. It seems we do things sometimes just because that is how we do them, never stopping to ask why, or if the practice even makes sense. Now, I know that that is common in any culture, but I am speaking about my cultural perspective. There are so many things that just strike me as so frivolous now. Traveling to the third world gives you new eyes that see things in a new way, and I really feel like it has ruined me to continue blindly accepting that amassing more stuff, getting a better body, living in a bubble world that revolves around me and what I want is a fulfilling life.
It really struck me as I worked out this morning how silly it would seem to so many of the people here who live labor intensive lives that I spend so much time working out so I won’t gain weight. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we should not work out. In fact, I think in our sedentary society it is our responsibility to get some kind of activity so we can be good stewards our out body. I think that if I am strong, healthy, and fit, I will be more equipped, and able to be effective for the Kingdom of God. What I think is very ironic is that progress is seen as making things easier and less labor intensive. It is this “progress” that makes it necessary for us to workout so we can be strong and healthy.
Have we made our lives too easy? Some of us hardly move at all, if we don’t make intentional effort to be physically active. Hauling water, washing laundry by hand, gathering wood to build a fire, walking to get to where we are going, building a home to live in are all examples of physical work that, if we had to do them, would keep us strong and make seeking out physical activity unnecessary. I am not saying that we all need to go back to living that way. I am just saying how ironic that our “progress” is leading us to be lazier, more unhealthy and making us have to “find ways to be active”.
Could it also be that some of our depression, lack of motivation and general lack of happiness could be tied to a lack of physical labor in our lives? How much of insomnia would be solved if we worked hard enough during the day to make us exhausted at night? Would we have more of a sense of accomplishment with our work and feel less bored with our lives if our work actually had measurable progress we could see, like a house we built or fields we tilled and cared for?
I have a theory that has been rattling around in me since taking Anatomy and Physiology that was further confirmed in some of my psychology studies. Our brains operate on a lot of chemical signals. We release neurotransmitters, endorphins and all types of chemicals, which actually give us the feelings, sensations, and experiences we encounter each day. Working out can become addictive due to the release of these chemicals. My fitness routine is the best antidepressant I have ever taken. It makes a huge difference in my life. When injury or circumstances cause me to not be able to workout, I can feel a difference in my mood, perspective and motivation. Since man was created to do work from the beginning, what if that chemical system is like God’s reward to us for our hard work? What if part of the “redemption” of having to “till the land by the sweat of his brow” is that our brains release chemicals that give us a sense of wellbeing and satisfaction? And what if part of the reason that so many are miserable with their lives and work is because sitting at a desk all day does not release the chemicals God gave us to make us feel good about the work we do? What if in making things easier for ourselves in the name of “progress” we are robbing ourselves of the reward and chemical joy God designed man to experience as he does that work that was put before him?
Just processing some thoughts out loud on my blog for people to read and think about if they so choose.