Saturday, September 27, 2008

Everything You Know is Wrong

Probably the great challenge of these times for many -- is the prospect of greatly increased life spans while nevertheless aging in the old and familiar pattern, which means that they spend nearly half their lives deteriorating, (aging) rather than than getting better (and wiser).

What is meaningful and hopeful is not simply living as long as possible -- but attaining one’s greatest health and prosperity (fulfillment) throughout that entire life span, and not at some inevitable and inescapable age, beginning that irreversible lifelong decline -- many believe is the only fate still possible.

This is where I think exercise has the greatest potential for transforming life as we have known it -- not in just enabling one to jump higher, run faster, and lift more weights -- while one is young and familiarly at their prime, but what would be more meaningful, is extending that health and vibrancy throughout one’s entire lifespan.

There are already a few examples of those breaking down those expectations of what we think a person must be like at age 70,80, 90 and even 100 -- but they are the too rare exceptions rather than the norm. And then they have been dismissed as freakish abnormalities -- rather than the entirely possible for every healthy individual, and in fact, that is what true health is -- and not merely adequate health care and health care insurance to sustain one for as long as possible in their unhealthful, declining conditions, they have come to regard as normal.

So even relatively young people at 30 begin to remark knowledgeably, “So this is what it is like to be old,” when they haven’t even reached the peak for most athletes and performers in most activities. When is it acceptable to allow oneself to go into this decline of health on all the levels -- just to maintain their present capabilities as long as they can?

Not surprisingly, peak athletic exhaustion may be counterproductive to that quality longevity, because with those supreme attempts, come the risk of injury and exhaustion of the recovery ability to the point that recovery is no longer evident -- or possible. Even machines wear down, and most people recognize, as well as their doctors and coaches, that there is a limit for even their best athletes -- and not endlessly, the more they are worked, the greater their capacity indefinitely and tolerate even greater workloads. They have to be conserved like the valuable resources they are -- and used judiciously at the appropriate times for maximum impact and effect.

Thus it is far more instructive and valuable to learn what level of improvement can be sustained as long as possible, rather than to see “stars” exhaust and extinguish completely, not so long after their greatest glory. Those are two entirely different things.

When people say they know the right thing to do but don't do them, it is because what they know is wrong -- and their greater brain functioning overrules that "knowledge" -- rather than that they know they need to put out more effort into their wrong understanding -- as though that will ever make it right.


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