Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Fragile Nature of Humans

Take a walk through any large museum and look for the care used when handling rare pieces of history or art.  Look at the care and expense we go to preserve the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.  The priceless pieces of art that are kept in rooms with the exact temperature and humidity to assure they are not spoiled.  It is truly amazing!  Now compare that to how we handle the most precious of all gifts, human life.  Do we take every painstaking step to assure that our bodies are kept in the right environment to assure the maximum life?  Do we expose our lives to things we know are dangerous?  Things that will deteriorate a master piece?  That will speed up the aging process?  Why are we willing to spend the money and set up the processes to assure that certain pieces of paper and art are preserved for future generations and yet when it comes to our health and vitality we don't give it a second chance. 

Lately, I have been struck by the number of my friends and family that are struggling with loved ones who are ill.  You can't turn on any media or have a conversation without the topic of cancer coming up.  Recently in Bakersfield the Relay for Life group raised an amazing $2.1 M for cancer research.  So many charities set up to raise money to battle diseases and there has been some amazing success stories about survival and overcoming odds to beat back a disease.  And yet with all of the angst and heart break these diseases cause I am perplexed by the other statistics about increased obesity, use of tobacco and alcohol.  Believe me,  I am no Health Saint who makes the right decision every time, hell, even most the time.  I know how the human body functions and the delicate balances our bodies function in and yet I make bad decisions about eating and drinking, skipping my cardio and stretching, but why?  Even without years of college, I believe we all know what we are supposed to do for activity and eating.  We just choose not to do it, but why?

I think we skip the things we know we need to do because there is no immediate effect.  Once we figure this out we know that nothing bad will happen if we eat a little extra, drink a couple extra beers or skip a work out. Actually, if we are being honest in the short term a lot of these things are actually more pleasurable than doing the right thing and thus the path is set.  The short cuts become the norm and we lose site of where we initially started.  This is exactly the difference between priceless papers and works of art and the human body.  If you drop a priceless vase, it shatters and if you burn a priceless document it is gone forever but if you skip a couple of workouts (don't exercise for years) or eat junk food your body doesn't shatter or burst into flames and so we march on.  That is until one day after the momentum of bad decisions catches up with us and we are sick.  We suffer and those around us suffer but there is no rewind button.  I'm not saying that every disease is directly caused by our actions and decisions but maybe if we all treated our bodies like the priceless, irreplaceable items they are there would be a little less disease and then we would have more resources to focus on those diseases that can't be eliminated by improved health.  Maybe we all need a life curator to make sure we are taking care of the priceless, irreplaceable work of art called, us.