The Pursuit of Comfortably Numb

The caveman years, they couldn't have been easy, right? And that's if you were lucky enough to score a cave. More often than not, these paleolithic peeps were forced to use the bones and tusks of mammoths tied together with animal guts to form huts (sorry if you're eating while reading this). And, speaking of animals, there was a plethora of fierce, four-legged fauna just lying in wait for Fred and Barney back in the day. Talkin' sabretooth tigers, dire wolves, marsupial lions and the giant short-faced bears. Not to mention, the aforementioned mammoths. Add in the constant quest for food (while trying not to become food), the oftentimes inclement weather, the inability to find a good doctor in the house and nary a shrink to unpack all the mental baggage they accumulated throughout their inhospitable stay on planet Earth and it's no wonder these people lived, on average, to the ripe old age of 25. Y'know, the same age as half the kids today who've yet to consider leaving their parents' nest.

So, yeah, this was far from mankind's golden age. There was no chicken in every pot, no geese laying golden eggs. Nobody putting another shrimp on the barbie. The times at Ridgemont High weren't fast and cavemen Bob and Ted's adventures were far from excellent. There was just the never-ending, feral day-to-day existence of grappling with the elements, hoping to survive another 24 hours to wake up the following morning and begin the slog all over again. Whether or not man had the capacity or even dared to dream of an easier life somewhere down the road has never been proven. There are no cave paintings depicting the future where the boys hooked up for golf on the weekends as the girls socialized at the spa while getting mani-pedis.

Indeed, things were tough all over for ages but somehow early man managed to keep on keepin' on, putting one hairy foot in front of the other, finally making meaningful inroads with the perfection of tools and pottery, coming up with the wheel, developing agriculture leading to urbanization (and the fallout: everyone knowing everyone else's business). And then the big-time stuff: the invention of the printing press which allowed literacy to expand. Also, medicine advanced and vaccinations were developed, protecting people from disease. This resulted in humans living longer lives. Cue the Industrial Revolution and the labor unions' eventual winning battle to get the weekend off and man had finally realized the concept of leisure, resulting in the masses flocking to vaudeville stages, Wild West shows, circuses, motion pictures and sporting events. The concept of free time was just starting to spread its wings.

And then, with the advent of electric lights, telephones, automobiles, airplanes and, of course, the computer, people's leisure time activity choices grew exponentially. Mankind had attained carte blanche, finally able to answer the Spice Girls' million-dollar question: "Tell me what you want, what you really, really want!" Our collective answer?... The ability to take the coolest selfies, to the point where people constantly fall off cliffs to their death attempting to snap the ultimate pic of them living their best possible lives (sorry, couldn't help it). But, all kidding aside, what is it that we've been craving since day one? Since our caveman beginnings?... Could it really be as simple as avoiding all hardships, of having the opportunity to shun all responsibility? Doesn't it make perfect sense that, after all the millennia of adversity, we just want to vedge the hell out?

Think about it, you invariably opt for texting over FaceTime, eliminating that pesky "actually having to react with someone" task, thus giving you the power to respond if and when you desire. You eschew braving the elements and mingling with the masses to staying inside your climate-controlled home with your cushy sofas and over-sized HD screens depicting virtually anything you want to see, Siri a shout away from playing any song you want to hear, your smartphone providing you with any game you want to play as you idly take in your robot vacuum zigzagging across the carpet. Your dishwasher hums in the background as you clap your hands to turn the lights on in response to the approaching evening and then go on your GrubHub app to order dinner before running a nice hot shower--a comforting distraction--as you await delivery.

Later on, you curl up in bed with a novel by your favorite author--an Audiobook being read on Kindle by your favorite actor--as you let your mind wander momentarily, reflecting on your day of innocuous, carefree inactivity. You yawn, turning off your device, grabbing an Ambien and washing it down with that last gulp of red wine, just a little something to take the edge off as you make your way into La-La Land. You lay down on your Sleep Number mattress ensconced in your 800 thread count sheets, offering a quick clap to kill the lights. Somewhere in the deep recesses of your mind, your inner caveman reveals a smug smile of utter satisfaction. About to nod off, you offer one last entreaty, "Siri... play 'Comfortably Numb'."