The Pursuit of Calm #12
“On Average we spend less time outdoors than maximum security prisoners and more than three hours a day living other people’s lives through TV and social media. Out of every 100 Australians by the age of 65: 27 will be dead, 68% will be flat broke, 50% will have suffered a relationship breakdown, 50% will have suffered poor mental health and 82% will have a chronic illness.”
– Tim Jack Adams
My immediate thought after reading the second half of the above quote was “flat broke, relationship(s) breakdown, poor mental health and chronic illness? Ha! I did all that by the time I was 35” – and though I wasn’t dead, not physically anyway, I was certainly doing everything I could to fast-track my demise via the choices I made in my day-to-day…‘Suicide by instalments’ as my mate Sadhguru says.
Gratefully, I not only managed to reverse all those symptoms, But now, as I lunge-jump through the back-9 of my life, I feel as though I have, and continue to, raise the bar when it comes to my physical and cognitive strength…both of which are becoming increasingly effortless the calmer I get.
‘Start Where You Are’
If you’re a human that’s hitting your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s…and, and you feel, due to your lifestyle choices, fatigued, unhealthy, grumpy, stressed, overweight etc then the time is now, and now is the best time.
Resist giving up, or giving in, and basing any reasons why you can’t, or shouldn’t continue tolerating how “unhealthy” you feel, purely because you ‘think’ that you’re too old, or you ‘think’ it’s too late.
The point to starting where you are, isn’t that you ought to, it’s because you have no better option: you are where you are – so start from there, and resist kiboshing your efforts by (over)thinking that you need to be in the same shape as you were in your 20’s, or that it’s just too hard…yes, it is hard
“You could leave life right now.
Let that determine what you do and say and think.”
– Marcus Aurelius
You’ve probably noticed there’s been a ‘Life & Death’ theme with these last 2-3 posts, and there’s good reasons for this.
Firstly, my continued daily investment in Greek, Stoic and Buddhist wisdom keeps this important topic very much front and centre (this is why I read it everyday, to remind me).
Stoicism for one, ‘uses death’ (Momento Mori – the ancient practice of reflection on mortality), as a ‘tool to inspire living’. We can better focus on what we truly value, by reminding ourselves that we only have a finite time on this planet.
In early Buddhist texts, a prominent term is maranasati, translates as ‘remember death’ or shining the light of death on life.
Secondly, and on a more personal level, both my parents are coming to the pointy-end of their lives. This inevitability is, in my opinion, something incredibly worthwhile to percolate. I feel immensely grateful on so many levels, that even after a few recent health setbacks, they’re both still remarkably well. ‘Remarkably well’ more so in the sense that they’re both very content and philosophically calm & ‘happy’ about where they are both at, at this apex of their lives.
And thirdly, I’m increasingly curious towards my own death, or more precisely, and knowing very well how quickly the remaining years I have will disappear…how do I want to spend what remaining days I have left?
Oddly (…not!), working my arse off, inebriation, absorbed & distracted, allowing myself to be overwhelmed and triggered by content, news, opinion & gossip are the very last things I want, nor need.
I’m planning to spend the majority of my time occupied practicing the very activities, meditations and disciplines that contribute & maintain my physical health & strength, that fosters calm & resilience, and nourishes both my inward reflection & outward interactions to be curious, joyful & kind…and you know what?
Practicing everyday, to focus my attention and exertion to the very things that feed my physiology and psychology, is a ‘full-time’ job…scratch that, it’s a full-time passion-project.
I’ve decided to dedicate what remaining days I have to left, to the very things that modern life seems hell-bent on distracting us from.
Time, health, happiness & calm
As Seneca say’s in his book The Shortness Of Life, “The problem is not that we have a short life, but that we waste time. Life is long and there is enough of it for satisfying personal accomplishments if we use our hours well.
But when time is wasted & squandered in the pursuit of heedless luxury and spent of no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realise that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it…with no real purpose, the finality of death fast approaches.”
My dad suffered a stroke recently and though he’s recovering incredibly well he continues to not only be very proactive in his recovery, but he’s continually, at his own pace, seeking methodologies to improve his health and strength.
At 85 he’s learning and practicing breathe-work everyday, he strength trains 3-4 times a week, he’s improved his dietary food intake, and, as a result, he’s not only lost a bunch of body fat, but he seems very much calmer, content & gentler, and from my perspective, more so now than at any other time in his life…bravo Dad.
Q: If you knew that tomorrow was your last day alive – how would you spend it?
I’d love your feedback, so please do not hesitate to let me know your thoughts.
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Feel like being distracted?
Resist it…pick up a good book, play with the dog, go for a walk in the rain, or do some squats.
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