The Reflex

Every day lately, unfortunately a little like clockwork after I have a cup of coffee or a meal I get this feeling in my gut like heartburn. My throat tightens up and my chest feels like someone’s gone at it with a cheese grater. When I was younger I had a bout with acid reflux-type symptoms, but it’s not something I've had to deal with in quite a while. It goes away after a while, and if it doesn't I douse it with pepto, but I honestly figured it would have gone back away by now that I’m back working and trying to get things back on track in my world.

Not that the issue (whatever it is) is solved, but that sometimes you just have to plow ahead. Tack a direction and set the sails. A little rough water (or stomach acid) is to be expected when you’re essentially jamming on the gas pedal from a hard stop. You can’t ignore the signs in the road, obviously – but you can’t just sit still either waiting for the wind to change, either. Bills need to get paid and things have to be done.

I was never one for doctors.

My dad goes to the doctor all the time, it seems. The older he gets, the more specialists it seems he picks up – and in what seems a bit of an uncharacteristic move for him, he just keeps piling them on. I say this because this is the same man who’s been told by almost every doctor he sees to quit smoking and get in more exercise, and he sort of tells them in his own polite way to go screw. And yet he still makes a concerted effort to see every one of them, even though he surely knows what they’re all going to say. As much as we’re alike, I never really got this compulsion of his.

If all they do is charge you money to say the same things over and over that you’re not going to listen to – why bother? He might as well be seeing psychics or buying lottery tickets the way he’s going.

But it’s also kind of his thing, too.

I think sometimes we draw these little lines in the sand. Draw boundaries to lock onto for our own edification. My dad likes to smoke. He knows it’s bad for him, he knows everyone who ever loved him from his sons to his grandchildren have tried to get him to quit, but for whatever reason he doesn't want to let it go. And while it certainly doesn't help any of his health issues to keep the habit, very few of the issues he’s dealing with are (at least in his estimation) the kinds that are a direct result of the habit. That’s not to say it’s right or that he’s justified in pumping that poison in his lungs, but that in his mind he’s been doing it for close to 60 years now and it hasn't gotten him yet – so why the hell not live a little?

It’s the same sort of mental math all smokers go through at some point I suppose. Especially those of his generation, when it seemed like everybody was doing it.

Nowadays people look at the whole enterprise differently, but a lot of them still make the same choice.

We live in a world where more or less we have a good idea of how to live perfectly healthy. When you get right down to it you could easily plot out a map of the habits to avoid and the right organic foods to eat and the exercises to do and the places to live that would provide you with as much of the optimal conditions you could get to keep your body and spirit in good shape. It’s all right there, and I’m sure there are people who follow those disciplines. But the rest of us seem to live in grey areas that at some point we’re old enough to choose on our own. Sure we might have grown up with parents that microwaved every dinner and lit up at the dinner table in front of their kids, but after a certain age you start to see all that for what it is and really re-evaluate the way you cook or the habits you choose to keep.

It’s such a bizarre part of being a human being – this crossroads where personal happiness and optimal health don’t necessarily have to be connected. Lots of people live their lives with at least one little self-destructive flavor mixed in – and still find love and prosperity in spades.

I know we've all probably known (or even been related to) someone who did everything “wrong” and still lived to be 100 years old or whatever.  Like some kind of cruel joke, just thumbing their noses at nature and science – smoking and eating junk food and not recycling and sitting too close to the TV and drinking booze like crazy people while everyone around them tried to be vigilant about watching their health and catching fucking cancer left and right. When you look at it all through a certain prism, none of it  makes any goddamn sense. Our bodies are wonders of bio engineering that seem to like it better when we treat the plumbing like crap.

Sometimes you have to scuff the soles of your shoes a little bit so you don’t slip all over the place when you wear them. Perfection is an ideal we strive for that doesn't seem to really do us any good half the time.

I wish my dad didn't smoke. I wish my hair had never fallen out. I wish this frigging heartburn would go away. I wish cancer hadn't ever been invented and the people it stole from all of us were still here telling me to eat my vegetables and turn down the music in my headphones.

But the world isn't perfect.
Or maybe it is, and the things we put ourselves through are just life’s way
of roughing things up a little on the edges so we can all get a better grip.


Satorical said…
Before I even read this, I have something to say to Buggin' Out: Yo man, your Jordans are FUCKED!