Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Forever Pill

You know the old cliche -- the young person asks the old person how he has stayed so strong and vibrant and the old fossil says something like, "Clean  living!" or "I ate oatmeal with cinnamon and a splash of whisky, every morning, for ninety years..."?  It occurred to me, last night, that this is a very desirable fantasy: the notion that we might, possibly, be able to pin health success on one clear-cut thing. In reality, the fact that this is impossible is sometimes the reason why we give up on the things that we know are good for us. I know it's the reason I do.

You know? Like, if I exercise every day, science says it will make me stronger and it will even extend my life. If I exercise every day, I will feel better -- that is for sure. But, before long, I will forget how bad I felt before I started to feel better and the impact of the exercise will now begin to be lost on me. I feel the way I feel; exercise is part of my life. Why not skip a day here or there? Thus begins the downward spiral.

There's no certainty to it, even if this doesn't mean (and it doesn't) that we should ignore the findings of science. Marathon runners drop dead in the middle of races, once in awhile. Sedentary fat people sometimes live to a ripe old age.

One of my relatives once had a heart attack in his fifties. The doctors told him he was lucky he worked-out on a regular basis, or it could have been worse. Do they know this for sure?

Ernest Borgnine, before he died (may he rest in peace), was asked how he stayed so alert and vivacious into his later life. I won't tell you what he said, because this is a family-friendly blog -- but it was naughty.

I take fish oil every day. Will that do the trick? -- or, am I damning myself to a half-century of disturbing fish-flavored burps for nothing?

I don't want to sound like more of a fool than I am. I get that research has shown a pile of things that contribute to our well-being and to our longevity, but those things, for me, are not specific enough to motivate. It's my flaw, of course, but I want a pill that will, indisputably, cause me to live, with full faculties, into a full century. I want to be an Olympic medalist when I am ninety, without training. Surely we can develop a pill for that.

"So, Gaffer Chris," someone will ask me, one day in 2067, "How'd you live so long?"

I'll look out from under bushy Gandalf brows and declare: "I owe it all to cranking out a blog, three days a week, for seventy years. Kept me spry, laddie!!" [Long, wet cough that causes the interviewer to dive under his chair.]

1 comment:

  1. This treadmill routine is really not giving you much joy, I fear - is there a nice walk you could take nearby instead?