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The Freedom Of Life
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Perversions In The Guidance Of The Body
Source: Power Through Repose
SO evident are the various, the numberless perversions of our powers
in the misuse of the machine, that it seems almost unnecessary to
write of them. And yet, from another point of view, it is very
necessary; for superabundant as they are, thrusting their evil
results upon us every day in painful ways, still we have eyes and
see not, ears and hear not, and for want of a fuller realization of
these most grievous mistakes, we are in danger of plunging more and
more deeply into the snarls to which they bring us. From nervous
prostration to melancholia, or other forms of insanity, is not so
long a step.
It is of course a natural sequence that the decadence of an entire
country must follow the waning powers of the individual citizens.
Although that seems very much to hint, it cannot be too much when we
consider even briefly the results that have already come to us
through this very misuse of our own voluntary powers. The
advertisements of nerve medicines alone speak loudly to one who
studies in the least degree the physical tendencies of the nation.
Nothing proves better the artificial state of man, than the
artificial means he uses to try to adjust himself to Nature's
laws,--means which, in most cases, serve to assist him to keep up a
little longer the appearance of natural life. For any simulation of
that which is natural must sooner or later lead to nothing, or worse
than nothing. Even the rest-cures, the most simple and harmless of
the nerve restorers, serve a mistaken end. Patients go with nerves
tired and worn out with misuse,--commonly called over-work. Through
rest, Nature, with the warm, motherly help she is ever ready to
bring us, restores the worn body to a normal state; but its owner
has not learned to work the machine any better,--to drive his horses
more naturally, or with a gentler hand. He knows he must take life
more easily, but even with a passably good realization of that
necessity, he can practise it only to a certain extent; and most
occupants of rest-cures find themselves driven back more than once
for another "rest."
Nervous disorders, resulting from overwork are all about us. Extreme
nervous prostration is most prevalent. A thoughtful study of the
faces around us, and a better understanding of their lives, brings
to light many who are living, one might almost say, in a chronic
state of nervous prostration, which lasts for years before the break
comes. And because of the want of thought, the want of study for a
better, more natural use of the machine, few of us appreciate our
own possible powers. When with study the appreciation grows, it is a
daily surprise, a constantly increasing delight.
Extreme nervous tension seems to be so peculiarly American, that a
German physician coming to this country to practise became puzzled
by the variety of nervous disorders he was called upon to help, and
finally announced his discovery of a new disease which he chose to
call "Americanitis." And now we suffer from "Americanitis" in all
its unlimited varieties. Doctors study it; nerve medicines arise on
every side; nervine hospitals establish themselves; and rest-cures
innumerable spring up in all directions,--but the root of the matter
is so comparatively simple that in general it is overlooked
When illnesses are caused by disobedience to the perfect laws of
Nature, a steady, careful obedience to these laws will bring us to a
healthful state again.
Nature is so wonderfully kind that if we go one-tenth of the way,
she will help us the other nine-tenths. Indeed she seems to be
watching and hoping for a place to get in, so quickly does she take
possession of us, if we do but turn toward her ever so little. But
instead of adopting her simple laws and following quietly her
perfect way, we try by every artificial means to gain a rapid
transit back to her dominion, and succeed only in getting farther
away from her. Where is the use of taking medicines to give us new
strength, while at the same time we are steadily disobeying the very
laws from the observance of which alone the strength can come? No
medicine can work in a man's-body while the man's habits are
constantly counteracting it. More harm than good is done in the end.
Where is the use of all the quieting medicines, if we only quiet our
nerves in order that we may continue to misuse them without their
crying out? They will cry out sooner or later; for Nature, who is so
quick to help us to the true way of living, loses patience at last,
and her punishments are justly severe. Or, we might better say, a
law is fixed and immovable, and if we disobey and continue to
disobey it, we suffer the consequences.
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