Sprite’s Dad shared this great essay with me. It is a long but very well-reasoned and articulated speculation on our current circumstances that asks us to ask ourselves some very important questions. As humans we are motivated by emotion more than reason. When the amygdala kicks in our reasoning brain stops working so well and our decision making skills are impaired. Kahneman should be essential reading for everyone because none of us are immune to this. So often our reactions to circumstances are disproportionate to the mathematical risk. Case in point: in 2012, shortly after the cruise ship disaster off the coast of Italy, we scored very cheap trans-Atlantic tickets on a cruise ship that was at only two thirds capacity because even though cruise disasters are statistically very low in probability, and cruise lines were taking extra safety measures in response to the recent accident, passengers reading the news suddenly assessed cruise travel as riskier and began cancelling their sailings.
The essay covers a lot more issues than I will delve into here but one that has been in my mind for a long time and certainly helped steer me to my current profession as a CrossFit coach is the war on death. I’ve had a lot of years to consider the very high cost in dollars and suffering of our culture’s obsession with delaying the inevitable. I had a front row seat to my father’s suffering as his failing body was kept alive but in constant pain by medical and pharmaceutical interventions for a decade or more. It is not for me to judge his choices or the sacrifices he was willing to make and the discomfort he was willing to endure to squeeze out a few more painful years of living. But it did make me ponder for myself how much quality of life I would be willing to surrender in exchange for a little more quantity.
Oncologists, for example, when themselves diagnosed with cancer often decline the very interventions that they have administered to their own patients. As doctors their prerogative is to battle to the bitter end to stave off death. As human beings they prefer to die with dignity.
Our war on death has become an obsession as if our main goal is not to live but to postpone death. To what degree are you willing to give up living in order to delay the inevitable? Are you willing to give up your freedoms? Your social life? Your recreation? Your family members?
Watching my father’s drawn out battle to postpone death greatly influenced my passion for delivering health and fitness to people because though I may not be able to give you more years I would like to give you better years. I’d like you to live the years you have to the fullest! I want your allotted time in this life – and mine – to be joyful, active and free of suffering.
COVID is now giving you the opportunity to ask this question for yourselves. How much of your life are you willing to give up to delay death? What freedoms are you willing to relinquish? What associations? How about your children? How much of their lives are you willing to put on hold or deny altogether?
There is not a right or wrong answer to this. For each of us it is an individual decision. My father was willing to endure a great deal of suffering in order to have a year or two more with his family and to see his grandson grow. I don’t think he regretted it. I may make another choice for myself. And you may have a different answer. But it is a question worth pondering.
Our current response to COVID reflects some very short term thinking because even if we come up with an effective COVID vaccine the threat of a future – possibly more lethal – pandemic will always loom. This is the first major pandemic of our lifetimes but not the first or the last in the history of human kind. How will we choose to live our lives with the awareness that viral pathogens can wipe us out?
For me I’m too busy living to spend my energy worrying about dying. I don’t get to choose when death comes, I only get to choose how I’m living. What about you?
Equipment: barbell, dumbbell, kettlebells or alternative. Band or belt.
Banded shoulder Pass Throughs
Banded Pull Aparts
Shoulder Press EMOM
Pick a weight, pick a rep scheme and do x number of unbroken reps every minute on the minute. See how long you can stick with it before you have to break up your set. If you’re done too early take a minute off to rest, drop the reps by 1 and jump back in to try again.