A life of Chance and the Precipice

May 3, 2012
By Anonymous

Every man, woman, and child on Earth lives in a shadow of impending death. Such a statement may sound pessimistic or extreme, but in reality, when you think about it, we WILL all die one day; we DO live in the wake of demise. With each action we take and every decision we make, we, though sometimes subconsciously, are continuously sidestepping and retreating from death. To me, our constant fear of and/or continual running from the end of our life can be embodied through the concept of two things; a “short term” and “long term”, if you will, expiration date.

Firstly, the concept is that each living body has two categories of ways to die: the short term, which is defined by random happenstances and ways to be killed through no fault or cause of our own. Your “short term” life is the time you have left to live before a random uncontrollable event causes your demise. The long term however, can be defined and controlled almost entirely through action, yet it is the category we pay the lesser attention to. This is because your “long term,” life is the time you have until you die of natural causes; things you could have helped prevent such as obesity or heart failure. We pay little attention to the long term life because our long term expiration date is so far away; because it is not imminent, like the short term, most of us do not see much reason to spend energy on warding off such a death.

By teachings from when we were little, we always are supposed to walk on sidewalks and not in the street. But why? What predator waits in a road? Well for starters…cars drive on roads (or at least they are supposed to). If not in fear of death, why would we care if a car hit us? The logical and most direct answer is that there is no reason to avoid being hit besides not wanting to die, and that answer is the truth. It is also the perfect example for explaining the concept of a short term life; but not in the way you might think. As we walk on sidewalks, sometimes you will hear a car coming and you will turn to look over your shoulder and watch it approach. Looking and watching that car is my perfect example. We look at the car to make sure it is driving regularly. We know that any car at any time could veer off the road and crush the puny sacks of blood we call bodies, so to calm our nerves against such a thing, we look and watch the car’s approach; to make sure it won’t kill us despite the “safety” of our sidewalks.

Continually throughout the day, each of us makes decisions in order to keep small and freak happenstances such as a car hitting us from occurring. We stay out of roads, we don’t eat infected or raw meat, and we don’t run with scissors and knives. All of us have far more fear of such a freak accident than of death by heart failure or old age, and so we continuously take precautionary measures against things that in all reality will most likely not happen anyways. What we rarely try to ward off is our long term expiration. The American public knows that continuously eating McDonalds will eventually kill you. It tastes good though, and the effects of such a diet are (probably) a little while off. So instead we continue most activity which lends to eventually killing us (bringing about that long term expiration date). The stereotypical “American disease” is that we do not exercise, we eat fatty foods, and we don’t really take care of our own bodies in the sense of preserving them to last a long time. We only care about preserving them for the next short segment of our life: making it safely home from school for example.

The distinction is made because as a race, we humans enjoy the tangible aspects of life. We enjoy the delicious taste of ice cream at two in the morning. We thrive off of the insatiable feeling of riding an iron cart down a steel track at 120 miles per hour over the crowded bustle of a theme park. It’s because we can feel the joy and happiness at that very moment. Eating all our green vegetables, running 5 miles a day and never smoking a cigarette doesn’t give us a tangible feeling of joy. Those things only give us the knowledge that we will live longer, not the feelings that we are living now; in that moment.
In conclusion, humans, for the most part, live out their days in the life style of immediate cause and effect; do and be rewarded. We do not live life to our fullest potential because we refuse or forget to take care of our bodies and our long term lives. Until the healthy, ecofriendly, and tasteful options become those of tangibility, our civilization is destined to teeter over the precipice of failure; into the shadow of a civilization that could have been more.

The author's comments:
I was inspired to write this by a conversation I had with my friends around the lunch table.

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