Killing Ourselves To Stay Healthy

From Frank Sinatra to Queen Latifah they sing the great American theme song: “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die.” Only today’s Americans [circa 25 to 75] have changed it to: “I’m Gonna Live So I Never Die.”

An exaggeration…? I don’t think so with 42.7 million fitness clubs, 2.3 billion annual drug orders, and a half a gazillion health gurus in books and on TV pitching their regimens for perfect abs and serenity in 15 easy-lessons-mailed-direct-to-your-house. Wellness is one thing; denial is something else!

OK, so maybe it’s flabby me envying fitness you. Still, no machine runs forever, and the body is no more than a remarkable machine. A machine in the case of recent generations which admittedly is living better and longer than ever before. [States like Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Pennsylvania and West Virginia boast more than 15% of their populations are living well past 65]. But this side of Star Trek, you and I are going to die like everyone else.

Which is why older less splendiferous societies often go at this living thing from a different angle. Instead of placing so many of their bets on the body, they concentrate their chips more on the spirit. That intangible part of us which they believe eventually leaves our bodies — fit or flabby — far behind.

These include the usual suspects: Himalayan monasteries…Tibetan seminaries…Hindu temples… Jewish Kabbalah centers….Christian retreat houses….Islamic mosques.

Here’s the thing. Ever since that serpent tempted that fig-less couple in the Garden, we’ve each learned in our own way that they’re some something about us that’s part and yet apart from the machinery. You can study it. sense it. pray it. even sing it.

But you’re not likely to discover it sweating on some clunky treadmill. I know, because the only thing I ever discover there is another pulled muscle. Which is precisely why Mark Twain said: “I’ve never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting.” Damn, what a great American….!

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  • Twain gets the nod from this Geezer as an outstanding man of letters ... who had great insight into who we are .... and where we were likely heading ....

    Unfair Jack .... I read this while eating heavily buttered toast .... now I'm having a guilt trip to start into the weekend .... Chuckle!

  • Oh my, how many guilt trips I have had as well... perhaps, though, the guilt is largely a creation of fitness fanatics who confuse wellness with happiness... as for me I'd like to experience both, but not wellness at the cost of my happiness..... and so it is that right after my treadmill I will indulge in some butter toast!.

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