I can’t believe I had this conversation again today. The details vary, but it always goes something like this:
Me: I want to get healthy while I’m young enough to enjoy it.
Other person: Well, the “healthy youth” thing is really a myth. Not everyone feels good, and people get sick, and we’re busy taking care of kids so we can’t go out much anyway. And lots of older people feel great and are active, so maybe you’ll be one of those. Besides, we’ll all be feeling like you one day anyway, and then we’ll all be on the same page.
Yes, people really say this shit. Ok, let’s start with the first thing: the healthy youth myth. That myth idea is a myth itself. I’m not saying that people without chronic illnesses are healthy all the time. They might get the flu or headaches or whatever. Some days they just feel like crap. Sure, I get that. But the point is that they recover! They don’t continue to have the flu for the next 30 years.
Next, just because you use your energy-filled, pain-free days to do things other than jet off to Paris and go to fancy clubs, doesn’t mean you aren’t enjoying your youth. Do you have any idea how many of us would like to have kids but don’t have the energy to take care of them? So while you might say you can’t party because you have kids, others of us say we can’t party OR have kids. See the difference?
I’m not suggesting that every 20- and 30-something parties 7 nights a week. But I’m suggesting they can go to parties on Saturday nights. I’m suggesting they can attend a lecture on Tuesday evening. I’m suggesting they can take a shower and cook a meal without feeling like shit.
And yes, some older folks feel good and are active. But if I feel like shit at 30 and 40 and 50 and 60, do you really think I’ll be skiing and skydiving and traveling and going out with friends at 70 and 80? Do you know any of those active elderly? Maybe it’s just a coincidence (I really doubt it) but all of them were healthy active in their youth and in their middle age and then they continued to be active. You can’t expect an unhealthy body to magically get healthier as it ages. The chances that I’ll feel better at 80 than at 30 are really incredibly slim. And besides, at best I could feel good compared to a typical 80-year-old, but I’ll never get the chance to feel as good as a 30-something again!
And sure, maybe one day my friends will all be tired and in pain with arthritis. But they’ll have already had all of the experiences of youth! That’s the point! Yes, maybe one day we’ll all feel equally miserable. (Though to be honest, I think I experienced more pain and fatigue at 32 than my grandparents did when they were 80. At 80 they were still hopping on planes and traveling. Not me. They still went out with friends all the time. Not me. Just saying.) But when we stiffly sit in our chairs with our achy joints at 80, they’ll be surrounded by kids and grandkids if they chose to have them, and they’ll remember all of their fun adventures and activities from when they were younger, while I’ll remember days of my life seemingly wasted sorting through medical records and insurance forms, feeling lousy, watching tv and ready and missing out on parties and outings that I really wanted to attend. Yes, I’ll have fun times to remember, but not as many. Hopefully I’ll have let go of the anger and sadness of not being able to have children, but maybe not.
So to all of you out there who spout the myth of the healthy youth myth, I’m telling you it’s not a myth. Spend just two months pretending you have the flu. Leave your job, turn down every invitation you’re offered, don’t accept invitations. Now tell me if you feel like your old life allows you to be active or not. I’m guessing you’ll feel pretty damn healthy by comparison. If you’re tired because you stayed out at the bar too late, go to sleep earlier next time, but don’t pretend you have it so tough. At least you have a choice.
I was going to give an update today on the doctor planet orbit, but I was too upset. So please accept my rant as just that (a rant), and I’ll resume my normally unscheduled blogging tomorrow.