I’ve been thinking about my neck lately. Not quite in the same way the late Nora Ephron did when she wrote about beauty and aging in her book I Feel Bad About My Neck but because mine has put me in physical therapy three times a week for the next month. After feeling sore for a couple of weeks and a visit to the orthopedist, PT was recommended. Improper posture, especially while at my laptop, caused me to overwork my neck (I’ve since swapped to an ergonomic keyboard and mouse).
But thinking metaphorically as I tend to do, I ask myself if my neck is telling me something. There are so many “neck” idioms. To name a few: Pain in the neck, albatross around my neck, sticking your neck out, neck on the line, be up to one’s neck in, get it in the neck–you get the idea.
All but one I’ve found–necking, as in going at it with your honey—have negative emotional connotations. There is apparently something about our necks that tends to make its way into our everyday expressions.
I’ll take a stab (not in the neck) at why: Our necks define a separation between our body and brain; our actions and our minds. Though preferable, it’s not necessary for our minds and bodies to be in agreement for us to follow through. However, though the neck separates, it also connects us (thank goodness!). When the body and mind are in sync we are able to feel whole. When we “put our neck on the line” or “stick our necks out” we open ourselves up to the possibility of pain, either physical or emotional. Our neck is the quintessential symbol of vulnerability. Let’s face it, we’d really be nothing without our necks.
We know that life’s strains and stresses can take a toll on us. Our bodies may manifest our spiritual hurts with physical reminders.
So here I am. Yes, my neck pain reminds me to take care of my physical self but most important, it reminds me to just chill. The “pain in the neck” moments in my daily life are usually not earth shattering but added together can, at times, become overwhelming. If I “stick my neck out,” however minimally, for someone but receive no appreciation or acknowledgment in return, I will make sure from then on to focus only on those with whom I have a positive reciprocal relationship.
I hope pain relief comes at break-neck speed, keeping in mind the strong connection between emotional and physical health, between mind and body.
(Grew up in Little Neck now living in Teaneck. Is there any hidden meaning in that? It could be a stretch but hey, that’s what my neck needs right now).