TWENTY-FIVE YEARS ago, I became a family man for the first time. Picked up a little work ethic and accepted some responsibility as both dad and head of a young family. Like a rolling stone I acquired a few habits both good and bad but on the balance I learned to be a well-oiled cog in the giant wheel of human society.
Since then the kids have become adults themselves, I’ve grown quite a few liver spots and wrinkles, but all things considered, I’ve held up quite well.
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Just last night as I had a bit trouble getting to Dreamland, I wondered when was the last time I struggled with mild insomnia, and since I had some time on my hands, realized that it had been years and years. For some reason I’ve had no problem with sleeping unless I’m going through stressful times, and from this I started to think of other things that I hadn’t experienced for some time besides insomnolence and came up with the list below. They’re not grouped into any area of interest, not as well thought-out as I might want, off the top of my head actually.
Pig out and not feel anything afterwards. Of course you can still eat a tub of ice cream, sprinkle bagoong liberally all over your kare-kare or ask for gooey pork sinigang filled with gabi and blubber, but the chances of your BP, cholesterol and resting heart rate raising the roof the next day? Bet on it. I remember polishing off five (5) plates of rice between breaths and picking (and sucking) bulalo to the bone, inhaling donuts the way Bill Clinton did and munching giant chocolate bars after their expiry date, without even the afterthought of a burp.
These days, after a lipid-filled weekend, esposa hermosa makes sure I comply with a menu that goes essentially this way : raisin bran cereal + honey oatmeal mix = (arggg) breakfast, banana and coffee for (awful) lunch, and raw salmon sushi and seaweed salad for (omg, but at least it’s free from her workplace) dinner. That’s just for Monday, and if I’ve been particularly reckless with my bacchanalia, there’s more insane diets planned for the rest of the week, and I pray she’s exhausted enough to turn in before me (unlikely) so I can attack my chichirya stash; I have no choice given my restive bulati. Given my delicate age and family history, EH has no choice, fitness isn’t only a trim waist and well-oiled joints but freedom from hypertension, arthritis and diabetes in our health-paranoid world. I have little choice but to agree with her impregnable, ruthless and time-tested logic.
Smoke like a chimney, drink like a fish and not worry about tomorrow. It sounds scarily common sensical, but those chainsmokers and alcoholics actually made sense at the time : You’re gonna die anyway, so why not die doing what you like, which was inhaling a thousand poisonous chemicals straight into your lungs and bloodstream, or killing off irreplaceable brain cells via Markang Demonyo?
The flaw in the argument which these same philosophies discovered too late was that you did die young, but courtesy of a ugly, painful death that ate away your innards and strangled you with exquisite slowness. My epiphany came after two-plus decades of smoking when I saw enough of male relatives succumbing to COPD, cancer, emphysema or a combination of all three. Alcoholics suffered the added indignity of being a burden to their loved ones as incoherent, imcomprehensible and forgetful before their time. The irony of these fatal diseases was that after some time, you no longer cared that you wasted your life, because ending it all would be a welcome relief.
I’m lucky in two respects : I didn’t have the alcoholism gene so I couldn’t tolerate alcohol long enough to soak myself in the stuff. When you think about it long enough, after shrugging off the non-macho references, intolerance is actually a blessing in disguise. Re smoking, two weeks of cold turkey and the sin tax pushing the pack price to NZ$11 (no tingi in NZ) was enough to get the tobacco monkey off my back in 2007, and I have reaped the rewards since.
So many more wonders of wasted youth that you can’t replicate today, and for your survival and peaceful existence, it’s probably just as well. I can’t say I’m wiser after 25 years of trial-and-error, but the fact that I’m alive and well, in full control of my mental and physical faculties and none the worse for wear is cause for rejoicing, and counting my lucky stars.
Thanks for reading !