“The health of the human body is ultimately dependent of the health and the habitat of the community” – Frank Forencich
I am currently reading, and inspired by Frank Forencich’s The Art is Long: Big Health and the New Warrior Activist – book. Although the name could be taken as spiritual, mystic, new-age twist, it’s far from it. Or close to it, depending on how you see the world.
He’s put into words what living a healthy life is all about. And how we are seeking the solutions to improve our deteriorating health from all the wrong places. We are too zoomed in when we should look at the big picture. In a sense it’s a true holistic outlook on health. And if word holistic is a turnoff for you, I hope you’ll change your mind because it’s the only way we, you, all of us can be healthier.
We can’t fix our increasing health problems by only looking at the shallow hacks, tips and tricks. But even further, we can’t fix our health by only focusing on ourselves. By focusing solely on the individual level we only care about how in tune the band is. While ignoring the gaping hole on the side of the ship that’s taking the whole fucking thing down.
So yes, our health is directly related to the other people around us and the health of the community we live in. But also how we treat the environment as a whole. As the Earth is getting increasingly unhealthy, so are the humans living in it.
Health of the planet = Our health
Currently we are molesting and violating our planet in all the possible ways. And though we are selfish creatures the fact that we are killing our habitat, our health and eventually ourselves doesn’t seem to be enough motivation to change our behavior. Which is not that surprising considering that on a individual, micro-level we keep exchanging our health for stress and money.
If we ignore the gaping hole on the side of the ship, the health of our environment that is, we are forcing fitness on already stressed body. Which is like trying to use a hammer to bang screws into the wall. Then being puzzled why they won’t go any deeper.
When your life is completely out of balance with stress and you live in a polluted (both psychologically and physically) environment, you can’t make up for these things by only doing more fitness and eating better. Those things might slow down the individual deterioration, or even improve the way you look on the outside, but they won’t stop the downfall by themselves.
This goes far beyond of just looks
Maybe we can draw more motivation by bringing it back to our shallowness by focusing on how killing the planet affects how awful we end up looking on the outside. What if in 50 years there will be no more glowing smiles, pretty butts and tight biceps on magazine covers. But grey faces, saggy rears and flabby arm fat. Would that get us to change?
Yes, looks are only one aspect of overall health. And looks by themselves are a poor indicator of individual’s true well being. Yet, if you look at most of the health related marketing, it’s all about beautiful bodies and beautiful people. Because those are easy to quantify, explain, market and sell to the masses.
It’s harder to sell health that involves being in the nature, building better community, having deeper relationships and caring for the environment. How the fuck do you package and sell that? Maybe by creating Under The Dome – setting, ideally horror free. Then selling tickets to live there.
I guess this is what retreats are for. But we only retreat to those places briefly so we can come up for air. Before diving back into our normal, concrete and cash filled lives. And the same cycle continues.
We are not wired for isolated concrete jungle
Here’s a another quote from the same book to meditate on: “Force your pet to live in isolation for few weeks and you’ll see some serious behavioural problems. There’s nothing wrong with your dog. The problem is with his world.”
Maybe this is the reason to our struggles with physical and mental health in epidemic portions. Unlike the dog, it’s not that we live in isolation. But we live in a world that we are not wired for. We live in a world of “me”, instead of world of “us”.
There’s more people around us than ever in the history of mankind, but we might as well be alone. We lack greater connection, meaning or depth in our lives. And this meaning can only achieved through deep and meaningful interactions with other people.
Our slow, analog brain is getting confused navigating through the fast-paced digital world we’ve created.
As Sebastian Junger wrote in Tribes, and I am heavily paraphrasing, “research shows that people often feel they have the most meaning in their life when going through a common hardship, such as natural disaster or war. Because during these times there’s a deeper meaning in each life than just me. Life becomes about us, about the strength and survival of the community, or tribe.”
In the end, we are only as healthy as the community or the environment that we live in. It’s another reason why we need to care for how we treat the people around us. And how we treat the planet and people at large.
Polluted, dead environment combined with toxic, self-absorbed people leads to a poorer health. Even in you. And we need to do more than just fix our fitness and nutrition to change this.
How do we fix this? I don’t know. But reading Frank Forencich’s The Art is Long: Big Health and the New Warrior Activist is a start.