Roosh posted Denying Death, arguing that’s it’s better to live for now than suffer now to live a few more miserable years. Danger & Play responded, arguing that being healthy is not for living longer, but for living younger while you live. Captain Capitalism has riffed on the same topic before, arguing not to save for now, but rather to prepare the Smith & Wesson retirement plan.
You should also definitely read this piece on how doctors choose to die.
Almost all medical professionals have seen what we call “futile care” being performed on people. That’s when doctors bring the cutting edge of technology to bear on a grievously ill person near the end of life. The patient will be cut open, perforated with tubes, hooked up to machines, and assaulted with drugs. All of this occurs in the intensive care unit at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars a day. What it buys is misery we would not inflict on a terrorist. I cannot count the number of times fellow physicians have told me, in words that vary only slightly: “Promise me that if you find me like this you’ll kill me.” They mean it. Some medical personnel wear medallions stamped “NO CODE” to tell physicians not to perform CPR on them. I have even seen it as a tattoo.
Now, as for me, family history wise, I should be long-lived and healthy. Both of my grandfathers are in their 80s, mobile, healthy for their age, and more or less independent, despite the fact that one of them smoked most of his life, but even so, eventually I will reach the point where my body will break down.
I find the thought of living hooked to a machine or living as a adult toddler horrifying. When I come to die, I plan to do so in my bed, surrounded by family, or possibly, go alone into the woods to feed the wolves. I do not plan to fight it, bu to embrace it.
Now, the arguments of both Roosh and D&P both centered around health. Do you suffer now by denying yourself foods you enjoy, undergoing painful workouts, and starving yourself? Or do you live in the moment, and die when you die.
For this we will go to my favourite book of the Bible for wisdom:
In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these:
the righteous perishing in their righteousness, and the wicked living long in their wickedness.
Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise—why destroy yourself?
Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool—why die before your time?
It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other.
Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.
Regardless of whether you are a Christian or not, the advice here applies to everything, avoid all extremes.
“Moderation in all things, including moderation.” – Petronius
Be moderate: take care of your health, but only insofar as you need to. Worshiping your health is no better than living a life of gluttony and sloth.
The point is not to deny yourself, not to suffer. Suffering is extreme and unnecessary. The point is not gluttony, that’s just leads to future suffering. Both of those are unnecessary, counter-productive extremes.
The point is to structure your life so you can eat healthy, while not suffering.
That’s why I eat a modified primal diet: the Paleo Fuck You diet, as it were.
My base diet is healthy. I generally either don’t eat breakfast, or have a couple eggs. For lunch, a bacon/chicken salad and for supper, some meat. Some fruits for energy when engaged in physical activity and some almonds, berries, and dark chocolate for snacking. I drink water. That’s describes the majority of what I eat.
But, if I’m with friends, I’m going to enjoy myself: pass me another slice and top up my coke. If I really crave a milkshake, I’ll stop by DQ. If I’m in a rush, I’ll pick up something off the value menu. I’m eating ice cream as I’m typing this: I haven’t had ice cream for months, but really craved it on the way home, so I bought some.
I never feel deprived, because I never deprive myself. If I really want something, fuck-it, I’ll eat it.
Yet, I still maintain my diet. I’ve lost 30 lbs (about 15% of my pre-primal weight) since April, while adding some muscle mass. I have more energy and endurance than I’ve had since I was a child. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been.
Read the book Willpower (I mean it, best book I’ve read this year [well, technically tied for best with the Way of Man, read that too]).
Willpower does not matter for dieting. You can not willpower your way to good health or good diet; it doesn’t work. In fact, “dieting” leads directly to weight gain. There are powerful bio-evolutionary forces at work in you that will stop you from “starving” yourself, and there is no way to overcome them.
So what matters?
Habit and environment.
Start good habits and structure your environment to eat right.
I let my natural laziness do the work for me. I shop each week and I only buy enough fresh meat for the next week or two, some eggs, fruit, salad supplies, and a few condiments/spices as needed. I make a giant salad for the week, to split into portions each day for lunch. I do not buy unhealthy food, my fridge is mostly bare except the previous. So the choice is, either eat what’s there, or get to my car, drive to the market/fast-food joint, purchase stuff, and drive home. My laziness wins, so I eat my pork chops happily (with some Bull’s-Eye, because hey, it makes it that much better).
I have some stuff in the cupboard from my pre-primal days and some Coke and what not in my alcohol fridge for when I have friends over. But it takes more time and effort to cook something in my cupboard than to fry up some sausages. I have coke, but if I want one I have to go downstairs to my alcohol fridge and get it, while water is right there: I almost never drink Coke on my own simply because the 20 seconds it takes to go downstairs makes it too much of a hassle. If I want ice cream, I have to go to Safeway or DQ and buy it.
I never feel deprived because I never deprive myself, but I’ve structured life so my natural laziness limits how much unhealthy food I’m eating and the good habits I’m developing naturally take over.
So be moderate. Don’t deprive yourself, but structure your life so that you aren’t tempted. You’ll eat healthy, but never feel deprived.
Back to dying. When should you die?
Should you live fast and die young, or should you eke out every tiny bit of life you can?
Neither, either, both. The question is flawed.
The better question is why do you live? What do you live for? What is your purpose, your mission?
You should die when you are done.
You should live until you have accomplished your mission or when your continued existence can no longer serve your mission. You should not allow yourself to die before then and you should not try to prolong your life beyond this point.
You do not deny death, you do not affirm life. You affirm your mission and realize death is simply when you cease to struggle in this mortal world.
Live to struggle for your mission, struggle to live for as long as you are able to advance your mission. Then allow yourself to die. Don’t drag it out, don’t fight it; go to the grave knowing you gave your all for what mattered to you.
That is when you should die, when you can rest peacefully knowing you have done everything you could and there is nothing more to do.
Die when you are done.
Roosh, the Captain, and D&P seem to come at this from a hedonistic perspective. They want to enjoy being young; their mission is pleasure. So, it would make sense for them to live fast and young as long as possible, then fellate a gun when they are too decrepit to enjoy themselves.
If you live hedonistically, the Smith & Wesson plan or the early heart attack is the perfect death.
But, hedonism is not something that works for all; it’s just not enough for many.
Most people need a mission; something greater than their own self-pleasure to live their life for.
The S&W plan might not work for them. Living fast would not work for them, but neither would eking ever last painful second out of life work.
What will work for them is dying when they have nothing left to accomplish.
Some personal reflection:
These last years, I’ve been looking for a mission. So far unsuccessfully. Because of this, I’ve cared little about whether I remained on this mortal coil or not. The lack of success has lead me to slowly become more nihilistic over time, and hedonism is looking increasingly attractive.
But it doesn’t seem enough.
I want to fight for something, to have a mission. I want to go to breath my last breath knowing that I fought for something greater than me.
Hopefully I can find it, before the S&W plan starts to make more sense than it already does.
To conclude, avoid the extremes of health-nuttery or gluttony. Eat moderately.
It’s not about suffering to live as long as possible or dying young. It’s about fighting for as long as you can and dying when there’s no fight left in you.
Die when you are done.