I was standing in the shower thinking about how easy my life is right now (don’t worry, I have plans afoot to make things much more difficult for myself), and it occurred to me how abstracted from a hunter-gatherer reality almost everything that I do is. I tried to picture myself explaining to some guy who lives in a tree on some savannah what it is I do all day, not even getting into the odd mechanics of modern life where I pay for goods and services by handing someone my flat bit of plastic and letting them hold it for a minute, the result of which is that somewhere in the world an electronic representation of a number changes.
The most peculiar thing I may have to explain however, might be the concept of exercise. I am picturing a conversation where I explain that I was running two nights ago. Not from anything, not to avoid being caught somewhere or eaten by something larger than I am, and not to get to a destination. In fact, I was running in a big circle so that I could get back to where I started from. Sometimes, I count how long it takes me to run in a circle, and I try to get back where I started from sooner than last time. Occasionally I’ll get on a special machine where I can run as fast as I want to, and I don’t go anywhere!
Sometimes I climb stairs or hills when I don’t need to get to the top, and when I get there, I come right back down again.
Other days, I pick up heavy things and put them back down again. I do this a lot of times from the same place. Sometimes I’ll stand or lie down in a funny way to make it harder for me to lift the heavy things, or I put them on the end of a stick, then I lift the stick up instead. Once I’m done, I put the heavy things back exactly where they came from. If I don’t, the other people who lift the heavy things would get angry with me.
But why? Why would you do these things, I picture the guy asking me.
Well, where I live, we have so much food that I do all this exercise so that at the end of each day I’ve used up all the food I’ve eaten, and it’s like I never ate anything at all. Sometimes if I run on the spot enough and lift enough heavy things, it’s like I’ve un-eaten some food. I also sweat a lot, so I generally drink a lot of clean water afterwards and then wash myself in it so that I don’t feel so hot and sticky.
I expect that this is the point where the fellow would holler something in a language I don’t understand, and I would either be burnt at the stake, or the local doctor would start drilling holes in my head to let the crazy out.