Rodney M Bliss

Let Me Tell You About My Nonexistent Neck Pain

There’s an old joke:

Doctor, it hurts when I do this. . .

Then don’t do that.

My neck doesn’t hurt. In fact, it doesn’t hurt a lot. It doesn’t hurt when I lay on my right shoulder. It doesn’t randomly spasm when I’m typing and send shooting pains down my upper arm and forearm. And to go along with that, my right hand isn’t numb either. No minor tingling in my fingers, or pain across the back of my hand.

Nope, my neck, shoulder, arm and hand all feel fine.

Back in 1997, Roberto Benigni made a film called “Life Is Beautiful.” It was a great movie. Even though it was filmed in Italian, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. It won for Best Actor, Best Music and of course, Best Foreign Language Film.

The tagline for the film was

An unforgettable fable that proves love, family and imagination conquer all.

It was a comedy. 

It was very funny. 

It was set in a concentration camp in WWII and the main character is killed. (Sorry to spoil it for you, but it’s been 20 years, you should have seen it by now.) 

Benigni, who wrote, directed and starred in the film was criticized for filming a comedy that seemingly made light of the horrors of the Nazi death camps.

I think Benigni did a good thing.

I have a friend, Dave, who is a professional writer. He has been a writer almost as long as he has been my friend, and he has been my friend for nearly 30 years. In addition to New York Times bestsellers, Dave writes a blog. He gives advice to new authors. He’s been a teacher to some of the most famous authors of the past 20 years. Yesterday, Dave wrote about the need to follow your heart, if you are a writer. Yesterday, I wrote about the fact that life can be mean and nasty and will beat you to your knees if you let it.

I think we’re both right. And that’s what Benigni was saying. Of course, life in a concentration camp was hell on earth. Even with the separation of decades, we can still smell the stench of the ovens and hear the screams from the “showers.” Nothing that I have to endure can even compare. I will never really understand that horror.

But, even in the midst of tragedy, there can be rays of light. We are the ones to make our lives. And the way we do that is to choose. Life will happen regardless of our involvement. But, we have the choice to be idle spectators, being acted on by life, or taking control.

In my family we pick our relatives. That might seem strange, but a combination of circumstances have come together in a way that allows me, my kids, my parents, to decide which people we want in our lives. I have relatives who are pretty negative. I’m an adult. They are adults. Do we have to interact? I don’t have to pick them.

No. I can simply choose not to choose that person. Sometimes I want someone in my life, a wayward niece, for example, and they don’t want a relationship. In that case, I’m like the single guy in college who really, I mean really wants to have a conversation with that girl in his History 201 class. Sorry, buddy. It takes two to Tango. If my niece decides she wants to reconnect, Facebook is still there. 

We each have the opportunity to select whom and what we surround ourselves with. Want to be a writer? Write. Want to be a comic? Find an open mic and get up on stage. Want to be a doctor? Go back to school.

As my friend Dave pointed out, we have it within us to do what we want. And as I pointed out, it’s not a job, or a certain amount of money that will give that fulfillment. It’s our choices and our ability to look around and find the positive.

Like my non-neck pain. A few months ago, it was terrible. I literally thought it might disable me. (When you cross over the half century mark, everything starts to look like it potentially might disable you.) But, I made some changes. I changed how I carried my computer. I adjusted how I sat. I got a new keyboard and mouse. And my pain went away.

So, when I’m looking for that positive spark. I’m looking for that “Life is Beautiful” moment, I just think, “My neck doesn’t hurt today.” That alone brings a smile to my lips.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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