Staying Alive vs. Being Alive

Doing everything necessary for your body to thrive will make you look like a genuine “thrill seeker” compared to the typical citizen of modern life.

Remember the post a while back where I explained why dying from “natural causes” should be considered a major embarrassment. The message was that “natural causes” is always a euphemism for the predictable outcome when a person had long ago abdicated their responsibility for maintaining their health, or avoided living so much that their body finally got bored and quit. Neither of those is a very noble cause of death.

Historically in pre-agriculture times, people died primarily from accident or predator. Secondary causes were human-on-human violence (as in, war), or accidentally ingesting deadly substances. These are all risks that we have modernized out of our lives or outsourced to others, and they are no longer a threat to our existence. In the process, we all became terribly boring and risk-averse, to the point of being barely alive; barely moving for fear of “risk”.

Doctors are continually telling us to lay off just about anything physically challenging because of the risk of injury, when the risk of injury is mostly dictated by the fact that we lay off just about anything physically challenging. Even our glitzy “health clubs” are now stuffed with mechanical devices and “low impact exercise” for the sake of risk avoidance. Even the most ignorant among us knows by now where all this leads. It leads to people who can barely manage to get out of their chair, and never want to.

So once the risk is gone, what’s left to kill us? Ourselves, with “natural causes”. We manage the task in a variety of ways, but mostly through neglect. A life with no risk is a life of neglect. Risk is not only where all the fun and excitement in life is, it is also the thing that causes our bodies to thrive in ways for which there is no substitute.

If you say that you are all about healthy lifestyles (that being, things that cause our bodies to thrive), and yet you spend your days trying to lessen the risk in your life, you are one giant contradiction. You cannot be risk averse (in the typical modern sense) AND healthy. Doing everything necessary for your body to thrive will make you look like a genuine “thrill seeker” compared to the typical citizen of modern life.

It’s true that our risk-avoidance is allowing us to live technically longer lives and to observe the effects of aging on our lifespan like never before, but what fun is that. And, we still don’t really know the extent of our lifespans if age was the only factor because none of us are doing everything we can to find out. We have found other ways to fail in the job of causing our bodies to thrive, and that typically results in dying of “natural causes”. So “natural causes” is just another disease: the disease of neglect.

The ideal life is one where we do everything we can to cause our bodies to thrive, knowing that must include enough risk (read: fun and excitement) to find something that will eventually kill us before age does. The only other alternative is to merely ‘stay alive’, rather than ‘be alive’.

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