Paul Parillo Monkey in the Middle

TV, fun! Fast Food, fun! Lying on a couch, fun! General vegetation of bodily and mental functions, super fun! Yet, all these things – the easiest and most rewarding in a present temporal sense – are also major contributing factors to an early funeral. Exercise, healthy eating, active mental stimulation and general life ambitions are what keep the extent of our lives pleasant and rewarding – but damn, it’s so much hard work!

Now, anytime you turn to the health page of a newspaper, you can almost always count on an article being dedicated to a new survey portraying the health effects of inactivity and laziness. We’ve all heard the statistics about the amount of sitting one does every day, contributes to the loss of years off of your life. That’s nuts and unfair! Sitting and relaxing feels great, but now, one can’t help but to feel guilty imagining what one`s muted conscience is screaming about.

Unbeknownst to us, mostly, is the social game (one might even say experiment) of “monkey in the middle”. The clockmakers and social arbiters wrenching the gears and dictating our choices are throwing the ball from virtually every point of lifestyle to see us run aimlessly to find our place. But unlike the popular playground game, we never catch the ball, but instead have it given to us until we become too comfortable, wherein the ball is taken away and once again passed along the endless track of variables.

In one moment, the rest and relaxation spent on a couch or sitting by a computer is the remedy to a stressful day. That is, until we discover those moments of relaxing were really just added ticks to our own death clock.

Why give us the option of deadly food, why make it easier to stay on the couch for hours to watch movies, why have unlimited access to misdirection and attention grabbing internet sites (both at home and on our phones) why have all these interesting, delicious, enjoyable things always within an arm’s length – then remind us it’s bad to take part? One could make an argument and appeal to an individual’s prospect of choice as a last line of defense, but ultimately this argument doesn’t end well.

Being creatures of nature and nurture, we have but limited resources to combat this game of monkey in the middle. Choices are decided not from our own unadulterated free will but from whatever the influencing factors are surrounding our life at a particular time. The best things in life are not free in the sense that they come with glistening shackles and the smiling influence of the people and things that show us what we can choose between. A life menu where all the prices are too high, the servers are uninterested and the food, as average as it is, keep us in our seats because after all, the doors are locked and dessert is about to be served, again.

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