The Itches We Can’t Scratch

Have you ever wanted to do something really bad – something you’ve thought about, talked about, maybe even dreamt about – but something you’ve known would ultimately lead to a less than favorable outcome? In a society that is obsessed with instant gratification, these situations arise quite often. Following through with the action might result in immediate feelings of pleasure and accomplishment, but that temporary happiness will eventually have its parade rained upon by negative fallout. And there’s no way of knowing how long this aftermath of regret will last.

At that point, there is only one question you can ask yourself: Was it worth it? Or as the 2004 film The Girl Next Door phrases it: “Always know if the juice is worth the squeeze.”

Now, sometimes there’s no way of knowing the value of the “juice” until you just forget about the consequences and “squeeze” away. And that is probably the reason many of us follow through with these questionable actions. We basically know what the possible negative repercussions are, but the positives remain a complete unknown to us. And we just want to know.

Last week, I began cutting down a tree with my father. The tree was leaning over the pond in our yard, and it appeared as though it was on the verge of falling. Vines on the tree must have made contact with my skin, and it wasn’t apparent until today that I had indeed developed a poison ivy rash on my arm. The willpower it takes to refrain from digging my nails into my arm is inconceivable. Scratching would be extremely relieving, but I know for a fact that – for lack of a better expression – the “juice” would not be worth the “squeeze.”

And that is why many of us choose not to follow through with these types of actions. The momentary joy seems tempting, but we know we will eventually regret whatever we had to do to obtain it. And that’s what it all boils down to: the consequences. Don’t do something if you aren’t prepared and/or willing to face the consequences of your actions.

Now, I don’t know if I believe in karma or any of that stuff, but Mother Nature seems to have a bone to pick with me lately. This allergy season has been possibly the worst I’ve ever experienced…


Aside from the repulsive rash on my arm and the constant looking like I’m higher than Snoop Lion when he decided to change his name to “Snoop Lion,” I woke up the other day to this:


This should be a Doritos Locos Taco advertisement.

This should be a Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco advertisement.

Investigators are saying that they believe it was two birds and that the suspects were planning to terrorize my dad’s Cadillac, but the explosives were ready earlier than expected, so they attacked my Hyundai instead. More details to follow.

[Source: CNN]

But in all seriousness, I cannot know for sure whether this was the work of a group of birds or just one bird with a stomach problem. All I can assume is that they/it chose this location to drop gifts purely out of instinct. If a bird needs to relieve itself, it’s going to relieve itself as soon as possible, regardless of its location. A bird doesn’t undergo the internal struggle of deciding whether “the juice is worth the squeeze” (another surprisingly disgusting application of this metaphor). It just acts without thinking twice.

That’s the beauty of being human. We have the ability to reason internally and draw conclusions based on our understandings of potential consequences. Sure, we have instincts just like any other animal. But what separates us from most species is that we can choose to abandon our instinct in the interest of practicality.

Maybe that’s what is so difficult about having an itch. Basic instinct tells us that when something itches, we should scratch it. And when we don’t, the itch grows stronger. And stronger. It gets to the point at which we think scratching will solve everything – the original itch, all of our other itches, even all of our future itches, perhaps.

But scratching is just a temporary solution. Experience has taught us that itches often come back. So, we should really be in search of more permanent solutions to our problems. Because if we don’t exercise our ability to reason and make decisions based on things other than instinct, then we are no better than the bird(s) that shit on my car.


4 thoughts on “The Itches We Can’t Scratch

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