Denying Death

Most Americans have a morbid lifestyle due to their overeating and inactivity, but a large percentage of the population are health nuts who want to live a long, healthy life. I used to be that guy. I was very neurotic about what I ate, even going without meat for two periods of my life. I didn’t go so far as only eating organic foods, but I avoided processed meats and snacks with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce. I boycotted McDonald’s. I thought hot dogs were made by the devil. I moderated my drinking and did my best to avoid second-hand smoke. I dutifully exercised three times a week for 30 minute increments.

Today I’ll eat hot dogs and ham. I’ll eat McDonald’s breakfast if I happen to be up at an early hour. I’ll spend four hours in a smokey club. You want to go for a jog? Hmm, how about we grab a beer instead? I drink like a fish if I’m in the mood. I’m not careful in order to live a long life. Everything I do is to either help me accomplish my current goals or to feel good today. I eat a diet that gives me energy… today. I maintain a figure that is attractive to women… today. I lift weights to boost my testosterone levels… today. I take multi-vitamins to avoid getting colds… today. I don’t care how long I live unless today is the best day I can make it.

So I don’t understand when my peers say they want to live until they’re 100, completely rearranging their life and experimenting with supplements that give no guarantee that they will live even a day longer than compared to a more “unhealthy” lifestyle. Living today for a tomorrow that may not come is living based on fear. Accepting death, something that happens to us all, actually turns out to be a lot easier than staying on top of the latest fad diet or health news that invariably contradicts yesterday’s health news. Accepting death forces you to chase your dreams now instead of postponing. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is nothing more than a postponement lifestyle, a fancy way of procrastination.

A great article in New York Magazine perfectly shows America’s denial of death…

The traditional exits, of a sudden heart attack, of dying in one’s sleep, of unreasonably dropping dead in the street, of even a terminal illness, are now exotic ways of going. The longer you live the longer it will take to die. The better you have lived the worse you may die. The healthier you are—through careful diet, diligent exercise, and attentive medical scrutiny—the harder it is to die.

Attempts to delay death now may do nothing but increase your suffering in the end. Many will put a lot of hard work in their 20s running on a treadmill like a hamster to finish out a couple extra years in a nursing home, unable to even remember who they are due to cognitive decline. I’ll take the massive coronary instead.

This is not just a drawn-out, stoic, and heroic long good-bye. This is human carnage. Seventy percent of those older than 80 have a chronic disability, according to one study; 53 percent in this group have at least one severe disability; and 36% have moderate to severe cognitive impairments; you definitely don’t want to know what’s considered to be moderate impairment.

What a crappy deal. All that medical advancement and progress in longevity to become a shadow of your human self. This is what people are signing up for when they run their yearly marathon and practically starve themselves with a vegan diet. You can’t even smoke a cigarette these days without someone thinking you’re a complete moron.

One evening, almost three years ago, getting into the shower, she caught her lagging foot on the rail of the shower door and went down into the tub. She lay there, shivering in the tepid water until morning, when her neighbor became alarmed. There is a precept here, which no doctor quite spells out: once it has begun, it has begun; decline follows decline; incident precedes incident.

My views on death changed when I lived with my dad next to a retirement community of elderly rich people. Even though many had the best care available to them, including nubile African and Thai nurses, being over 75 is brutal. It’s not like Jack Lalane doing 100 pushups. It’s not ballroom dancing in tuxedos. The most fit, strapping young American men in their prime were now getting wheeled in before me, or walking at a pace so slow you can’t help but get agitated when stuck behind them. With most of their friends and relatives dead, it’s a lonely place to be. Their adult children, who should be the bright spot of their lives, treat them like children who must be endured. Like the author of the article, many can’t wait until they die.

Sadly, they have nothing to look forward to in life except death. Their brain is going, they aren’t mobile, and they’ve lost the ability to do their hobbies. The highlight of their day is straining to read the paper or talking to random people like me about the good old days.

… the purpose of long-term-care insurance is to help finance some of the greatest misery and suffering human beings have yet devised. […] ‘Old age,’ says one of Philip Roth’s protagonists, ‘isn’t a battle, it’s a massacre.’ I’d add, it’s a holocaust.

My dad would always tell me and my sister that he doesn’t want to be a burden on everyone if he gets old. “Don’t worry about taking care of me, just let me go.” Of course we would object, but he saw what I now realize: it’s not worth living when you can no longer take care of yourself. There is no happiness in having to depend on others for things you used to do without thought and effort. You will come to a point in your life—and I hope that it’s far off for you—where death isn’t a bad deal at all.

Often times I see some comments asking me why I’m “so negative.” Why don’t I just write about the wonderful parts of life and focus on all the good in the world? The reason is because there are negative aspects of life and the human experience that don’t go away if you close your eyes. Living life through a filter is not living life—it’s pretending. No matter how I look at it, living for today is the best thing I can do. So I don’t want to read health news. I don’t want to know what chemicals are in the meat or in the water. I don’t want to do the paleo diet. I just want to enjoy this day that I have before me.

103 Comments
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samseau
samseau
8 years ago

“Philosophy is nothing more than learning how to die.”

– Rousseau

Pete M
Pete M
8 years ago

As usual, well thought out and well said. On the whole Paleo thing – I found that eating grains and processed foods made feel like crap in the hours after – so I’ve cut them out of my diet.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

Notwithstanding this post, I’d bet Roosh lives a healthier life than 99% of Americans.

Bob
Bob
8 years ago

That quote is from Cicero I thought?

Fff
Fff
8 years ago

I don’t eat healthy to live longer, rather to maintain a young look.

If I can look 27-28 when I’m 35 I’ll be happy

Fff
Fff
8 years ago

And paleo is more about cutting foods that irritate you.

Eating bread every meal as most Americans do is hard on my body.

ColSpanker
ColSpanker
8 years ago

“Hope I die before I get old.”

Tree
Tree
8 years ago

Good stuff Roosh…end is near my friend :)but, WHO CARES???

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

Actually, it’s that way because our society is not well organized. It should be the other way around : the older you get, the happier you are.

In community oriented societies in latin america or in Africa, a lot of old people live with their children in their home. They’re involved in the community and in raising the children. They are more respected and have something to contribute to society.

The problem with us is we don’t care what grand daddy has to say, he’s “out of date”. It’s ridiculous that all these 55+ people on retirement die without sharing their knowledge. A healthy 60 years old man who’ve been through wars, losses, love, challenging careers and adventures can teach a lot of things. They could do volunteer work, they could help teenagers become mature, they could do many things but we just throw them out of society.

Francis Begbie
8 years ago

I sort of agree with this. On one hand, the idea of living until 80, pissing into a tube in a nursery home is a nightmare, and it would be far better to die earlier.

On the other hand, I eat extremely well and eat weights a lot, and not because I want to live longer. I want to live better. When you eat the paleo diet, clear all that shit out, you get less mood swings, you’re more confident, you look better, you’re not getting the flu and vomiting, you’re thinking clearer, more intelligent etc. It’s not about living longer, it’s about living better, otherwise I’d be hitting the fast food every night. Both of which happen to be fairly synonymous, so as long as your not that emaciated cunt jogging for three hours a day.

Francis Begbie
8 years ago

“lift weights a lot”

Jordan
Jordan
8 years ago

Very thought provoking.

ladderff
8 years ago

Want to add another plug for paleo eating. A minor inconvenience buys you more life–today. Better sleep, and less need for it; more energy and a clearer head even when you are tired; no time lost to being sick; more bang for your buck at the gym; and eating mostly dead animals is bad ass anyway. Don’t want to sound like some kind of fanboy but I wager that all of the horrors of old age,including the cognitive ones, are mitigated by a life of a proper diet.

Someguy
Someguy
8 years ago

If there would be a “like” somwhere in here, the previous comment would have definitely got it from me.

As the Bible says: “There is nothing new under the sun”. Human brain, and needs didn’t change much from human prehistory, till today. When listening to old people i just need to put their experiences in today’s context, and most of it fits. All the poeple wanted before may have changed the shape, but is the same crap as people love today, and how people behaved before, toward each other may changed shape, but not the essence. Offcourse there is always stupid people young and old, so it’s important to differentiate.

Rick91
Rick91
8 years ago

Fuck paleo, but saying that if your a naturally fatty, you do what it takes.

Someguy
Someguy
8 years ago

“Today I’ll eat hot dogs and ham. I’ll eat McDonald’s breakfast if I happen to be up at an early hour. I’ll spend four hours in a smokey club. You want to go for a jog? Hmm, how about we grab a beer instead? I drink like a fish if I’m in the mood. I’m not careful in order to live a long life. Everything I do is to either help me accomplish my current goals or to feel good today. I eat a diet that gives me energy… today. I maintain a figure that is attractive to women… today. I lift weights to boost my testosterone levels… today. I take multi-vitamins to avoid getting colds… today. I don’t care how long I live unless today is the best day I can make it.”

We(not Americans) thought that average American has bassically been ingrained with this somewhat agressive menatlity, and that it’s the common American lifestyle, but it seems not. Is it that Americans have changed radically over 20 years, or that we just recently came to open our eyes about you?

Bill
Bill
8 years ago

Exercising and maintaining a healthy diet will make you feel better…today and tomorrow. And I enjoy going to the gym. if you are saying don’t become a nut about it, I agree. And the problem is that medical science has increased our lives without yet advancing to a level where it can preserve the quality. I plan on staying as healthy as I can for as long as I can without going to medical extremes. If I need to hasten my demise at some point, I’ll worry about it then.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

This doesn’t make sense. Your implicit assumption is that healthy living today means a protracted period of gradual decline in old age, while unhealthy living today means going out on a high note. This is a claim with no basis in the scientific literature. Healthy living means you a pitiable wreck in your late seventies, having enjoyed your sixties. Unhealthy living just means the decline comes quicker.

The question is: When do you want to decline? Sooner or later?

Theodora
Theodora
8 years ago

Paleo is ridiculous, worst 4 months of my life. And hopefully this post will also make people some realize it.

As always there’s nothing I can argue about the post. I agree with Roosh on it all, though not on the severity of the old age he’s describing. In my country people live up to 90 and they’re in pretty good shape and still having a pretty good time. One thought on this whole attitude is that it doesn’t change unless someone has kids. Right? As in you don’t want them to grow up alone without you and have your wife/husband handle it on their own (then again maybe someone wont ever have kids because of it). Or if someone is too attached to their parents and doesn’t want them to endure the loss of a child. I don’t know, just wondering.

And one last thing: what makes you happy also makes you live better and look younger (I’m not saying longer). I know people who smoke and drink every day and look 10 years younger, simply because it’s what makes them happy and they carry a happy mindset because of it.

Richard Martin
8 years ago

You don’t want to do the paleo diet but you don’t need to because you visibly make *other* efforts to keep fit. Or maybe it’s not an effort for you, it just comes naturally? Well, for the rest of us, keeping fit after 30 takes some effort. As far as I can tell, it is the paleo diet that maximizes the fitness-to-effort ratio. But I could be wrong…

Nonetheless your main point is well taken, which is that we do the paleo diet to keep fit today rather than to increase our life expectancy from 88 to 89 years old.

Some people I know want to top themselves off at 65. Is that too young?

Kaiserfranz
Kaiserfranz
8 years ago

You have a point about eldert care.

I remember how my grandfather, 90+ yo, was living during his last year:
less than a shadow of the man that he was, with the same needs of a newborn and no memory of his close relatives…

But I disagree on your view about eating healthy: I do not do it for leaving longer later, but for looking better now!
Unhealthy eating habits can make all the pumping iron useless, and beer is the worst enemy of a six pack…

Grace
8 years ago

Anonymous at #18 is totally right: everyone ends up a crippled wreck sooner or later–why would you want sooner?

In any case, the real horror of aging is dementia. Causes are partly genetic (and thus out of your control either way), but lifestyle is also important: being fat, smoking, eating a bad diet (and thus having high cholesterol) and drinking too much all contribute. In fact, there is some evidence that changing one’s lifestyle can prevent dementia.

Avoiding ending up as a drooling bedridden vegetable via stopping smoking and binge drinking, while choosing to exercise regularly and staying mentally active seems like the smart decision.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

“What really counts isn’t the years in your life, but the life in your years.”

Newb#3
8 years ago

I agree that the goal of living longer is pointless. I highly doubt the years past 70 are really all that good anyway.

But… a lot of the measure people take that you mentioned are not about life extension. They’re about (a) optimizing current health, or “today” as you wrote, and (b) slowing down the process of aging.

It just so happens that life extension, slowing down aging, and optimizing current health and appearance have significant overlap both in what they are as goals, and how one goes about achieving them.

Eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising, supplementation, avoiding damaging activity, meditation and other stress reduction methods, aren’t just about extending your life, they’re about looking and feeling your best today and in the near future (into your 30s, 40s, and 50s).

All that being said, of course, you can’t optimize everything, and sometimes the best thing to do to improve the quality of your life involves doing things that are unhealthy. If you have to work your ass off and sleep little in the process of starting a business that will allow you to live well in the future, do it. If you work hard and don’t eat well while mastering a skill or hobby that provides you with intrinsic joy, it’s worth it. If you drink a lot, but you do it going out and socializing and meeting women, it’s worth a slight hit to your health.

It’s all about balancing. First find out how important health is to you. Then see what you can cut out and add to your life to improve it without taking away from other parts of your life that you value. Manage what you can, and don’t sweat what you can’t.

nathanwyatt
8 years ago

No man deserves his freedom or his life
Who does not daily win them anew. …

****************************************

Stirbe und werde
Die and become

Goethe’s Faust