Living Right… or just to the Left of Death.

Fauja Singh ran into the records book just the other day. It made the news…. The Turbaned Tornado, Centenarian, marathon runner.. 100 years on and running strong.

Well, out came the can openers and those familiar can of worms. Surprised? Apparently we in our collective unconscious all want to be immortal, or so they’d want us to believe. And every single time that familiar can gets popped open, out squirms at least one worm of a different color. Medical science in all its glory is relentless in making darned well sure you get your daily bread of steak and beans and yet keep on ticking into the next century. And i dare say they are getting very good at it despite on how well we’re getting along in indulging ourselves in ways that bring us that much closer to the edge of the precipe. Frequently even those who do teeter off the edge are heroically pulled back for a second chance at life. Didn’t someone say that one is most alive only when faced with death?

At a subconscious level, i do believe this to be true. The straight and narrow is such a mundane and dull path to follow.. in the grand scheme of simply existing that is, back before the day of the Twinkie and the tractor… when men had strong backs and the rhythm of life was dictated by the cycle of the seasons. But of course where Adam succumbed to one little temptation, theres no dearth of temptations in this day to get the Endorphins flowing and electrifying the senses. Man by nature is always seeking, reaching,… invariably walking the precipe. Matters not if its just the rush of driving 10 over or surfing the murderous waves of shark infested waters. Being alive is about that tingle,.. hair on end, the jangle of electrified nerves, the adrenaline rush and all that entails to experience life in full biological technicolor,… mixed in with the fear of a little gamble of having something to lose. And in the greatest gamble of them all, for the greatest rush, frequently its life itself thats thrown on the table. In contrast, the less cavalier chip away at it instead, building a lifestyle out of a deck of cards slowly bleeding chips…. which will inevitably collapse.  This, is a dealer with a very peculiar sense of humor, everybody cashes in their chips in the end.. its all a matter of who plays the longest with the most satisfaction.

Maybe this is what drives Fauja Singh. I simply cannot see a physician recommending  long distance running as a form of physical activity to a centenarian. Even though it may only be a 3 foot drop, when at the precipe, man invariably feels the most alive.

Then there are some, who dig in deep and defy natural instinct, calm the mind and chain down mans free spirited soul. Then again, theres nothing quite like a chronic disease to temper free spirit. I dont believe anybody would ever describe Dr Reddys diabetic proof heart healthy wheat bread exciting. Foregoing nasi lemak and other culinary delights, no beverage other than anti oxidant rich green tea and sparkling water, eating right and living in a fashion that is most conducive to staying away from the doctors requires the severest of determination and will power to sacrifice sugar, spice and everything else nice. That would definitely take the curl out of my hair.What else can that be called if not bland and mundane? Any respectable hypertensive diabetic worth his salt (ok, thats just a bad joke right there…) can attest to just how bland living right can be.

There is no middle ground, there is no safe path…  There are only personal extremes. “Moderation” just lessens the burden of a perceived personal extreme, erring on the side of caution.

Without actually condoning one extreme or the other, once put into perspective, i’d rather ask how i could hedge my bets and sweeten the odds in my favor instead, not so much to live right, but just to the left of death… having my cake and eating it. And in the end, after its all said and done, to be remembered as having lived a full and exciting life. Cant really ask for much more than that eh?… the trick, is in getting away with it….. Maybe we all could do with some insight from dear old Fauja Singh.

– asmd.


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