I get a regular e-newsletter from Mercola.com. He’s a holistic doctor and the ins and outs of his health philosophy are better explored at his site in his words. Yesterday’s newsletter, delivered at 2 in the morning, announced that *this* common drug will be responsible for 60,000+ deaths every year. Quelle Horreur. I know, I know, to each of the individuals in that list of 60,000+ names, death probably wasn’t the ideal outcome. But we talk about “preventable deaths” like if we could just avoid the preventable deaths, we might be able to avoid the whole business entirely.
Here’s your mortality news flash: Oxygen and plain old water, if ingested for long enough, will inevitably lead to death. To misquote Stoppard, for all that there are four points on a compass, from the moment of birth, there is only one direction. In Tarot, everyone seems to be tragically afraid of card 13 – Death. It’s rarely about actual death and most often symbolizes change. Perhaps a profound change, but not necessarily the ultimate transformation. Change is inevitable and the only thing you can count on. Death is the inevitable capstone change to a life lived to the best of any of our ability.
You are going to die. None of us know when or where or how, and that’s the point, isn’t it? Anything we have in unlimited quantities we take for granted, time included. You’re going to die. You can’t change that, you can’t predict it, and unless you’re planning on a self-inflicted transition, you can’t control it. This fact of our existence can either be used to stifle life here and now or it can be used as cause to celebrate the here and now which, lets face it, can be pretty damn beautiful.
So two things about the breathless headlines associated with mortality.
1) They are framed in a way to increase fear and therefore increase compliance. As previously mentioned, if you want to manipulate someone, scare the poop out of them. They’ll purchase, they’ll alter behavior, they will lose their capacity to think clearly which, as we all know, is the marketer’s preferred state for their chosen market.
2) What’s wrong with talking about how you want to live instead of how you don’t want to die? I’m sorry. A far distant death of complications for diabetes 2 isn’t enough to keep me from my favorite threesome: Ben, Jerry, and me. But right now? Is the sugar headache, the inevitable gluttonous hangover, the congestion… Is that how I want to live? I’m gonna die. It might as well be Ben & Jerry as anything else. That’s not enough to dissuade me. Get me thinking about how I want to live. And I mean really live, not just exist. And then talk to me about juicing. Because unless death is imminent, it’s way too theoretical.