Sunday, April 30, 2006

Live long and prosper... but why?

In the latest Esquire, the focus of the issue is improving one’s health, which apparently boils down to improving one’s immune system and keeping one’s arteries clear (eating better, exercise), not inhaling too many pollutants, and getting more rest. Yowza. We’ve never heard those recommended before. In the same article about rest, it notes that men who have more sex live longer. (Couples who don’t have a TV in the bedroom have sex, on average, twice as much as those who do.) It also suggests that maintaining close familial relationships has been attributed to living longer. Something about people where generations spend more time together have dramatically longer life expectancy.

Apparently these people have families who don’t want to kill each other half the time.

So not only do Americans eat too much, and make poor choices in what we eat, and not rest enough, but apparently we’re killing ourselves because we don’t keep in touch with our parents enough—and then pass that habit along to our children.

Having a government that starts unadvisable wars in the Middle East probably isn’t helping the averages. However, that’s not something a change in lifestyle will address.

I’d argue that those who started this country were adventurous in spirit, and that has permeated our culture ever since. The adventurous are, by their nature, somewhat nihilistic; to be adventurous involves taking risks, and generally speaking, taking risks often runs contrary to one’s survival. Ergo, we are a nation of people who seek our own destruction because the thrill of not getting destroyed is too engrained in our social fabric.

The reason we don’t exercise more and we eat super-sized fast food is not merely because we are lazy and enjoy convenience; we are staring death square in the face with every French fry we put in our mouths while sitting on the couch, taunting the Grim Reaper with every bite, saying “Come get me, you son of a bitch.” Every moment we don’t die is an act on par with a firefighter running into a burning building, or with the most daring thing Evil Kenevil ever attempted. We have cheated death without having to climb into a cramped rocket and fly over a canyon.

The problem is not that we don’t live long enough; we are not in danger of becoming extinct as a species and need to encourage lengthening lifespans to allow more breeding. (We are in much greater danger of wiping ourselves out due to overpopulation.) We have more than enough people clogging up the 405 at rush hour. Were it not categorically un-American to restrict reproductive rights, one could envision a time when we’d need to limit people to one child per family like China.

The problem is that we aren’t that happy while we are alive. Why bother living longer and prolonging the agony? Curl up with a Double Quarter Pounder while watching TV in the bedroom, and enjoy the succulent artery-hardening adventure. This is why our founding fathers broke away from the English. It certainly wasn’t to live past the century mark by eating nothing but vegetables.

If only Esquire devoted an issue to determining how to be happy it would sell out the day it hit the stands. Of course, it’s hard to drag out drink heavily for roughly 120 pages, although it would be the easiest advertising sell in history.

I need to stop giving away these brilliant ideas for free.

(Yes, it's entirely possible some of this is ironic in tone.)

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