My birthday is coming up in about a week and a half, and coincidentally, a number of things have conspired to make feel old.

Now, mind you, 29, is not exactly old, but when your knees start clicking, you become lactose intolerant, you experience painful muscle spasms due to bad posture for the first time, and your glasses break and you have to confront the poor natural state of your vision, it’s probably inevitable for one to consider this the oft-promised onset of the decline of one’s thirties.

It was only after mulling it over and wallowing in self pity for a few hours that I considered that whole premise to be bullshit. Why exactly does your youthful health and vitality and resilience shut off like a light switch when you hit thirty? Makes no fucking sense to me.

What most people think of as the singular process of ‘aging’, is actually the cumulative effect of several, at least a dozen, separate streams of degeneration that left unchecked result in your becoming physically ‘old’.

What really happens is not that at some arbitrary marker your body decides to swirl down the crapper. More like, at some actually quite predictable interval, the neglect or bad habits you haven’t addressed, have quite predictable effects.

If you continue the slouching and slumping that most of us do in front of tv and computers and in our lumbering awkward gait, you will invariably experience neck, back, and joint problems in an accelerating downward spiral. I’d say 95% of the massage clients I’ve seen so far have this and pretty much all of them dismiss it as ‘stress’. Except when they’re in permanent pain and can’t move anymore.

If you require glasses for reading and lazily wear them all the time, when you don’t have to, the muscles around your eyes that are supposed to control the shape of your corneas, will atrophy, and you will end up wandering through a landscape of blurry nonsense at any juncture when you happen to not have your security blanket.

If your diet consists of the usual over-processed, fiberless, nutrient denuded crap that most of us were weaned on, then as time goes on your digestive and metabolic health will decline, and the buildup of toxic byproducts will trigger all kinds of allergies, sensitivities, chronic illnesses and early death.

If you abuse your body in the characteristic ways of going about ‘exercise’ and don’t invest the time or money in some kind of regenerative or healing activity, like yoga, massage work, fasting, or meditation, the cumulative wear and tear of various trivial but never fully healed injuries will eventually cripple you.

None of this has anything whatsoever to do with actually being chronologically older. Except insofar as a thirty year old has ten more years of stupid habits to account for than a twenty year old, and ten years of momentum in the way of repairing them.

As time goes by, the backlog of stupidity does narrow your options somewhat and makes the window of health a little smaller to fit through. Everything in life is about balance. The thin edge of that balance point never changes, but the consequences of falling off it are proportional to how long you’ve been wandering, as is the difficulty of getting back on after you’ve fucked up.

Most people misunderstand karma. It has nothing to do with cosmic retribution. What you invest in is what you get.

Meditate on that for awhile.

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5 thoughts on “A Narrower Path

  1. Sup Zac?

    I know what you mean; been thinking in the same vein though I’m a couple years short of ya. I’d agree with the “streams of degeneration”: it would be obvious without the clutter of pet health theories floating around (IE, “Fatkins”, etc). People seem to seize onto one factor that contributes to health (usually visible aspects, like weight) and forget about the rest. I like the idea of a spectrum approach.

    I’ve had a couple of examples to go by: my “uncle” Jim (OK, so he’s really my best friend’s uncle) is a veterinarian, and his take is that the doctors are basically full of shit about what’s good for you: they change their mind every decade or so about this food or that drug. Uncle Jim is a rather large, soft man, though one of the nicest I’ve met. He loves his beer and stuff like sausages and bar food; I’ve never seen him cook tho, so I don’t know what he eats on the regular.

    My STEPDAD Jim, however, is a piece of fuckin’ IRON. He’s pushing sixty with a bod most mid-forty-somethings would kill for. He rides his bike to work, goes walking with his batty mom, goes kayaking on weekends… not sure if he lifts weights or does morning exercises anymore. He usually sticks to a diet, I never see him with a beer. However, he drives himself nutz, and his mom doesn’t help much. I think he’ll live till he’s 90 or he’ll die of a heart attack in a decade.

    I think you’ve got the right track: exercise can be damaging, yoga and other healing arts are a good way to recover. I’m not sure about diet: most people see that word and think of buying the “lite” versions of the junk food you normally eat. Personally, I say eat natural if you can get it, the fresher the better. If you’re a big meat eater, make friends with your local butcher: your tastebuds and your tummy will thank me. And don’t touch the Nutrasweet (or trust other “diet” foods that prey on insecure people): turns out they work against you, so you want to go buy more diet foods… funny how they set you up to fail so they can make the maximum cash off you.

  2. “funny how they set you up to fail so they can make the maximum cash off you.”

    ..that sums up pretty well anything that goes on about ANY medical advice…

    they start you off inoculating you at birth with the most poisonous sustances, a lethal mix of foreigin proteins, solvents and heavy metals, so to stunt a good percentage of your potentials… then they wean you off with the most toxic compound for a human body: homogenized, pasteurized, skimmed bovine pus, aka “got milk”.
    they will tell you that you need fluoride for you teeth, a toxic waste product from aluminum industry…so will add it into tap water and toothpaste…
    then, once you became a sugar-holic, they will let you know how bad that is, and ready is the solution: synthetic sweeteners, the only worse alternative, most of them higly addictive and neurotoxic.
    also will convince you that saturated fats will soon give you a heart-attack, while poly-uns are sooo good… yeah right… too bad arterial plaque is made out of 75% unsaturated fats… quality saturated fat IS good, IS needed, all our cell walls and hormones are made out of it…as long as you don’t destroy it by heat… but nobody will ever tell you that, soybean and canola cartel rulez!
    and at the very end, once you are crippled by cancer or AIDS, not to worry, here comes the…vaccine!! …as it started, so it ends… 😀

  3. Bang on Zac. This is what I constantly have to explain to my teenage friends who say “so what if I don’t exercise and eat shit all day, I’m not fat and I feel fine.”

    They have my sympathy when they reach their 20’s.

  4. All I can say is this is a informative blog site! The other half and I just got back from our friends house (well actually my friends house) and I needed a HUGE break. I am working on a project right now that is based on massage therapy resume. I have literally been on-line for 5-6 hours doing research. Even though your blog really isn?t on the same page as massage therapy resume I am certainly happy I came across your blog. There are a ton of very good view points on this blog. Well I think I can here the kids calling for me in the background. I put you in my web favorites and I will certainly come back and visit. If you want to take a peek at my site you can find me here at massage therapy resume. I update my site frequently. Again, great job with this blog and I will be back again soon!

  5. I was ironically reading this site intermittenly while reading your blog, then came to this post, and felt it was a direct connection:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA_repair

    This is a good primer in understanding health especially in the dawning age of nanotech and focused nutrition.

    Cooking food and eating anything foreign seems like it would degrade DNA insomuch as raw food I believe is necessary for DNA repair. The idea of the whole ratio of repair-to-damage threshold that we all inevitably reach is very interesting (as mentioned in the wiki article). That place is such an incredibly awesome concentration of concise to-the-point, streamlined knowledge that is the product of forced equilibrium between the public at large. Especially on topics such as this.

    I’m also about to hit 29 in March…. and am feeling pretty much the same thoughts. It’s time to put theory into practice.

    Danny

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