Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cro-Magnons With Cell Phones

Paleontologists tell us that homo-sapiens first appeared around 35,000 years ago. These early people have been named Cro-Magnons, in honor of the cave in Southern France in which their remains were first discovered. Since these early humans were a lot like us, it would mean that we have remained basically the same in terms of physical, mental, and emotional components for a very long time.

But obviously a lot of other things have changed dramatically in our world. For instance, we are now expected to be able to multi-task: we drive cars hurtling down the freeways at speeds that could pulverize us in an instant; we do this while talking on cell phones (and evidence is showing that hands-free devices may be just as distracting as holding a receiver to the ear); or we might be eating, or drinking, or talking to a friend, or switching radio stations, or...and on and on it goes.

Our modern world is a constant source of stress and anxiety, yet we are living through this experience in a body and brain that haven't evolved significantly for 35 millennia. I would imagine that if a Cro-Magnon person were suddenly dropped into the middle of a major city, they would suffer catastrophic stress, and their fight or flight response would engage at levels that might prove fatal. Are we living at the same level of stress in our daily lives as well? Are the survival mechanisms that were once necessary and functional in the early human world, now permanently switched on and operating dysfunctionally?

If this is true, I do not know what the solution would be. We can't return to the hunter-gatherer society structure that seems to pre-date modern stress. I for one am not willing at this time to stop my life as it is, forage for berries along the 110 Freeway, and turn in all my electronics and internal combustionables. Meditation, yoga, a stable, loving relationship, and some conscious awareness of the situation have helped me to deal with the world as it is, but no matter how much I try to simplify, more gets added to the pile.

So keep breathing, my Cro-Magnon sisters and brothers. Stop occasionally and just feel yourself breathe. Look at the sky, today. Smell a flower. Actually hunker down and touch the ground with your bare hands. Perhaps this is all we need to re-connect us with our essential nature; to re-connect us with who we were before wanted so much.



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