One Body, One Planet, One Life

One Body, One Planet, One Life

I recently read someone’s answer on Quora about cancer, and it reinforced my belief that the body is very much like its own planet and ecosystem. We can treat it carelessly, without regard to possible long-term ramifications, in the interest of whatever short-term benefits we might want; and for a very long time, if we’re lucky, we may not even notice the damage done.

Raze the forest for land and building materials — you get a great place to live and a comfortable lifestyle, but you take away a system that pumped oxygen into the atmosphere, kept the ground solid enough to battle erosion and the winds moderate enough to maintain a certain local climate, housed a lot of creatures that had evolved to create a balanced cycle, and so on and so forth.

By the same token, eat a pie for dessert — you satisfy your sweet tooth and take in some easy-to-burn calories, but you feed the “bad” bacteria in your gut, the kind that eats sugars and stores it as fat, and starve the “good” bacteria, which extracts the nutrients from the foods you eat and properly regulates all the hormones in your body, et cetera, et cetera.

Every action has a consequence, and whether that consequence be bad or good depends on how you look at it, and by itself, a bad consequence may not be very significant anyway, but when enough of those bad consequences accumulate, the damage may be difficult or impossible to reverse.

So it’s no surprise that after decades of unregulated “progress” during the industrial revolution and beyond, after years of society doing things that weren’t exactly great for the environment, the damage has become more and more evident in the melting polar ice caps, the extreme and unstable climate changes, the sheer number of species quietly going extinct.

And it’s no surprise that people who indulge far too regularly for their own good for years and years find themselves in poor health, having aches and pain, getting older too fast, and suffering all kinds of ailments.

We take our bodies and our planet too much for granted. They are miracles that somehow work, this process and that process somehow going well together and creating yet another process that goes well with yet another — the way that horrible mosquito larvae feed the beautiful dragonflies, the way that a hearty meal featuring dark leafy greens helps keep a body from having too acidic a pH.

A man who just bought himself a fancy new sports car might fill up his tank with premium fuel to keep the engine clean and running great, and he might regularly wash and wax the car to protect the shiny paint job; he might take it to the shop or maintain it himself, even if it runs fine, simply to keep it “cherry” and at the top of its blue book value.

So why wouldn’t we want to do the same with our bodies, our planet, our life?

Of course, many people think life should be LIVED and believe that if on your deathbed you haven’t eaten well, loved well, lived well, that if you haven’t eaten all the desserts you wanted, drank all the alcohol you wanted, smoked all the cigarettes you wanted, that if you aren’t scarred, well used, and worn out, then it wasn’t a life worth living anyway.

I’m all for living, true, but there must be a middle ground somewhere and some awareness that many joys are also poisons in disguise, like the dangerous and addictive highs that come with taking drugs or eating sugar.

It’s all about balance — a scale weighing what’s good against what’s enjoyable — and depending on people’s agendas, it can be done in any number of ways. That said, anyone serious about doing what is actually best learns how to enjoy what’s good, like learning to love exercise and to prefer healthier foods, like learning to make money going green and to build a business with a zero environmental footprint.

It isn’t hard once the awareness develops and grows. Once you realize the wide-reaching impact of everything you do, you simply start to act with more intention.

Or so we hope.

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