/ shorter and intense lifespans or long...
.... and risk-averse, excitement-less ones?
I think to say to someone that they have a sterile lifestyle is a step too far...for all we know they may have an intense inner-life.
However, it is easier to point out lack of variety, excitement and adventure.
Thoughts sprung up from relatives quick change in lifestyle due to cancer and various other complications and another thread on this site.
I also have seen some of my great-grand parents die slowly and unhappily at very advanced age. Seen from the age of almost 40, it is easier to say I'd rather die early than in the aforementioned states (Step-dad circumstances don't really make for a particularly satisfying life- he's 64).
I am also starting to pay some of the price of my younger and reckless self and I'm thinking that once I double my age, the aches and pains may feel well over double what they are now! Will I regret it then? I don't now but.
What's your thoughts folks? Happy to have a late teen's opinion of the kilter of "yolo" to tales of warning from our more experienced contributors.
Answers on a postcard ladies and gents.
Comment on TV this morning - average lifespan in nicest areas 90ish and worst 75ish.
Average heath years 47 and 75ish respectively.
You may be able to skew the odds health years and lifespan with income and lifestyle but the difference between health years and lifespan remains 16-18 years.
The answer is to become highly irresponsible when poor health begins - start smoking & cave diving or anything dangerous sounding.
Do healthy people fear ill-health too much?
I like your style! I always joke that I'll start class A drugs when I reach my 80s. Nothing to lose then!
There's no real right or wrong way to live, simplistically put you can burn the candle at both ends and accept a heightened risk of an earlier death/worse quality of life in your old age or you live carefully and accept that you could still be a victim of chance and die young. I don't think that many people die because of an exciting life. Having lots of friends, good mental health and being active seem to correlate to having a longer, healthier life. I think the yolo excuse for destroying your body with drugs and alcohol is more often a mask for unhappiness than it is a positive life choice - most people grow out of it. Everyone will have aches and pains regardless of whether you've spent your life ruining your knees through hill running or your body has withered from too much sofa time and pizza.
My Gran died when she was 98 after being a heavy smoker and always having a pretty old fashioned and carefree attitude to her health. She was still walking to the shops on her own in her early 90s but her last few years were grim, as they are for a lot of people near the end of their life; especially if they're used to independence. My mum died when she was 56, she never really drank heavily or smoked and had plans for her retirement and growing older gracefully-ish with a static caravan in the west highlands to retreat to at the weekends, her dogs and a family of grand children to enjoy growing up. Sometimes life throws you a rubbish hand, all you can do is skew the odds in your favour. I don't think a different lifestyle would have affected either dramatically but both could have had a more comfortable death if our laws allowed it.
There's no getting away from the fact that if you live sensible - eat well, don't drink or smoke heavily and exercise then your chances of dying young are greatly reduced and more importantly your quality of life will be higher. Only you can decide what sacrifices are worth making and what aren't. My Gran always used to remind me that it was no fun getting old, but then it's slightly better than dying young.
However you decide to live, it's sad that the taboo nature of death leaves many suffering uneccessarily when the time comes. Hopefully by the time I'm ready to pop my clogs our cultural attitudes to a good death will have changed. Until then myself and my partner will have our back up plan in case a situation arises where it would be more comfortable to leave early at a time of our own choosing in a place where we can be safe, with loved ones and with as much comfort and dignity as death allows. Why we let people die in agony after suffering the indignity of losing their bodily functions one by one is something I find hard to get my head around. Dog's have better deaths than humans.
My approach has been to seek out people who are older and are happy and find out what they are doing. From my data, good health is a major determinant and strong, positive social interactions. I am hoping my elderly days are spent slowing down and savoring the moments of each day
> I am hoping my elderly days are spent slowing down and savoring the moments of each day.
Warren Zevon put it very well. "Enjoy every sandwich."
No one knows what's round the next corner so live life whilst you can.
RE aches and pains. I have lived, injured, hurt and healed all my adult life and it was all good until I turned 42 then my past hit me like a slap from a wet kipper. It's no exaggeration when I say the only pain free part of my body is my right arm from my elbow to my fingertips. The rest of me hurts all the time and seems to get significantly worse from year to year. I am 46 in a few months to give you some perspective on what might be round your next corner.
Can't I have an exciting, long life?
I'm not sure how much one can choose really? I'm 38 now (just), and seem to have a sore left knee (I am left footed) quite often from I'm not sure what, with a lump which looks like an osteoarthritis type lump on the inside of the joint, I'm going to go to the physio next week or the following one to get it checked out. I haven't done as much mountain type things in my lifetime as I want to yet, so hopefully it'll get sorted, but I'm fine to cycle still so will do a lot of that instead. That I haven't done what feels like a lot of mountain type things has me vaguely puzzled about why my knee is like it is.
Do as much as you can while vaguely looking after your body I guess? My knee might be funny from liking jumping down from things until into my 30's, or a lot of conservation volunteering where I used my left leg to 'tread things in' and similar. Hopefully it's something more reversible though.
I don't know how much this applies to my knee, but I rather get the sense that time alone leads to things degrading more than we can like to think, meaning we should do as much as we can while we can...
> No one knows what's round the next corner so live life whilst you can.
Seconded, and sympathies too - had a similar experience, with old injuries catching up with me in my forties, then multiple general health issues in later years (now in my sixties).
The only thing I’d add on the general ‘burn out vs. rust’ issue is that you can live life to the full without destroying your health, although luck often has a hand in this. One thing I would have worked harder on: keeping my weight down.
All interesting stuff. Luck, or lack thereof, was not my issue- I was daft as a brush and did not look after myself for some times. I have been more proactively paying attention to my body in the last 10 years but things did catch up.
My initial post was not just about aches and pains...getting some groans after an amazing day out is small fries and #firstworld problem really. I am really interested in mentality and people deep seated beliefs on the matter. Burn life by both ends and live to the full, prudently avoid any possibility. Something of the middle ground (most likely scenario). Is a long exciting life possible for most (as per Bouldery bits suggestions)?
I forget who I'm quoting, but I'd like to die at the age of 98 after being shot by a jealous lover. ;-)
Long exciting life is definitely possible. I'm still going strong at 61. Luck and genetics are of course the number one factor.
From my experience i would say the following help:
1. Don't put on weight.
2. Mix up your adventures to rest the most stressed parts of your body. Although climbing has been a thread for me throughout my life, I have periods of 2 or 3 years when I have switched over to: kayaking, scuba diving, fell running, orienteering and road cycling as my major obsessions. That doesn't mean dabbling in lots of things in parrallel - by all means go full bore at whatever you are doing.
3. Recognise what are the things that you can avoid that are most likely to knacker you out. E.g. I don't boulder anymore - too much impact, or carry heavy rucsacs downhill - trashes your knees. It's not difficult to work around those things and still have good adventures.
4. Don't put on weight.
+1, fat is not your friend, but it’s ok to eat!
Ofher than that, my motto is “live in the now” and try and make the most out of every day and situation. We all have a finite number of heart beats so spend them well!
Good to hear you're still active Jonathan - but then you're only 61, so why shouldn't you be?! Maybe the next 10 years are the worst - in my case a broken collar bone (bike) a broken back (ground fall) and a new hip 3 months ago (I lost 2 kilos!) A long time no see (over 40 years I'd say) but I'm the same size, and climbing again (indoors) just waiting on the weather (as per usual). The spirit's still willing - positive thinking's the thing. . .
. . . regards Richard
I don't think life necessarily needs to be reckless or intense to be more worthwhile. Just spent doing the things that make you happy rather than living it the way others and society think you should.
I went part time at age 36, before having kids, which is apparently seen as quite unconventional. I will have to compromise on many material things over the coming years, but my full time job was making me ill and miserable, and the thought of carrying on like that for another 30 years filled me with dread. So I changed things. However, I have no intent of spending all my new free time intensely or recklessly, I'm enjoying a slower pace, living life on my own terms, being able to do things I love be it climbing or gardening more often, and finally being able to get a dog (which I would otherwise have had to wait for until retirement, which sadly is in no way guaranteed).
6 weeks after I quit my full time role my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 68 (less than a year later he was dead), retirement age for my age group is currently set at 68! I think I have made the right decision.
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