If I’d known I was gonna live this long. I’d have taken better care of myself“, musician and lyricist Eubie Blake, was known to say at 100 years of age!
One of my health promotion clinic clients cited this at herself laughingly today, pleasantly surprised at the health check results I had explained for her. Of course the opposite of Blake’s irony might also be true. If we know we will die prematurely we might become a little lax and concern ourselves far less about lifestyle maintenance and health behaviours! Indeed, some individuals assume a lack of control over their outlook generally. It’s called fatalism, or what the social scientists call a lack of future orientation.
I recall the 1980’s pop star Debbie Harry singing “Die young, stay Pretty!” It was a nod to the untimely end of Marilyn Monroe and her own idolisation of this iconic woman. So whether it is the extreme recklessness of Harry’s sentiments or just an encroaching lack of motivation or ambiguity, health beliefs underlie our health status. We are all somewhere on this spectrum of living for today between an obsessive allegiance to topical advice, right through to numbing substance abuse or self-medication and wilful daredevilry!
Yesterday I met a lean and fit 40-something who amazed me with his eager curiosity, knowledge and self confessed obsession with the parameters of his very good health. He personally owned a pulse oximeter (which measures blood oxygen saturation, typically used in Intensive Care Units), a blood pressure monitor and a blood sugar measuring tool. He was considering buying a cholesterol monitor too!! He was evidently bashful about his fascination and could not be reassured about his excellent resulting risk profile.
Like this man, I have actually been much more prone to neglecting present pleasures and payoffs for the sake of the future rather than relegating the future for the sake of today. For me these sacrifices have been seen in my conscientiousness to hard work, readiness and practice; sometimes difficulty feeling I have “done enough” and even a very long overdue divorce. Vision is the essence of great sporting and competitive achievement, discovery and legacy. Yet poorly grounded in reality, it can be equally, quietly and as deceptively debilitating as its entirely opposite lack of responsibility.
The well known Swahili phrase used in the Disney Lion King song “Hakuna Matata” means “No worries”. What a great outlook to have, to be this carefree! And yet, As Simba was challenged to recognise by wise Rafiki , it is one that is rarely attached to long-lived
influence or impact !! It has nothing to do with purpose. I have noticed over the last year that everywhere I encounter people casually in shops, restaurants garages, there is a greeting left ringing in one’s ears rapidly replacing the meaningless “See you laterI”
This is increasingly “No problem!” or “No worries!”.
“Did I mention any problems?” I am tempted to reply!
Only a casual encounter can really claim to have no worries so I suppose the phrase is reasonable! No problem, means no attachment and no commitment is not friendship but chance.
So self investment whether toward health or education, personal or spiritual growth always and only come with vision, whether it be the vision of eternal youth and unblemished health, success in one’s career or strength and courage in the face of challenge. Without vision, the people perish” a Biblical proverb goes. May I ask, What vision is binding and protecting your “health and wellbeing”? What habits do you live by that release or degrade your prospects? They are likely to be tied inextricably with with the strength of clarity by which you see yourself finishing….and how!!
Live as if you know now what that will look like and you will live as if it were true, as if you had known all along!