And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young
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).
Surfing TV channels this evening I stumbled upon Piers Morgan’s program. Gayle King and Sanjay Gupta-with a bit of Oprah-joined him in discussing their new “Just Say Hello” campaign. This campaign wants to help combat day-to-day loneliness, foster civility and simple acts of friendly decency. And who knows; real friends may actually be made. Wish I thought of it.
Over the years I have phrased it as a question to myself: “Why the #$% can’t people just say hello?”. Gosh, Gayle, Sanjay and Oprah, you have struck a sensitive chord not only with me but, if response on Twitter is any indication, with so many others.
But here’s the thing: I’d like to know why saying hello is so difficult. Yes, social media is no doubt a part of the alienation we are dishing out and receiving–let’s face it, techie developments may have exacerbated the problem–but unfriendliness has existed since biblical times. The psychology behind it, I think, is human insecurity. No, I don’t have any studies to point to right now. This is just my gut speaking. We all harbor the need to belong (at all costs?), we fear being judged, wrongly or otherwise; we are possessive, competitive and suspect others so we attack first.
If what I’m guessing is true, that much of this is personal insecurity, then there are a lot of people in pain out there. Our insecurities perhaps surface on a larger scale in society as prejudice and discrimination. The human implications can be huge.
Blogging is one big experiment for me. Will it work? Who knows. I’ll link websites that have published my essays (look on the blog roll-click the box in the upper left) and maybe I’ll write original posts. I’m still marinating…