“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” This is my favorite way to travel. When I go to a country, I want to breathe the way that they breathe, I want to sing the way that they sing, and if they dance the cha-cha-cha, I will be cha-cha’ing all the way to my hotel room. This is the best way to learn, I believe, the differences in cultures so that you can expand and grow in the ways that you need to in order to become a more authentic, defined individual.
Lately, I have been thinking about how life has changed in America. Not like I have personal experience living in America 100 years ago, but I can imagine how much life has changed.
I can even remember to my time in high school up until now how much our lives have changed. I remember typing a paper on a typewriter in high school. I remember going to college and having a desktop computer and having to sit in my room in order to do my papers. I don’t remember having technology attached to my ear, hip, and shoulder.
I don’t remember ever seeing lawnmowers that mowed by themselves, or computers as small as a phone, or seeing my dad using a snow blower. I remember the days of rakes, shovels, desktop computers, and landline phones. I remember NOT owning a phone in middle school and actually using a pay phone or the school phone in order to call my mother.
I remember growing up and playing outside, playing with my dog, climbing a tree. I remember imagining people and places and creating stories with my friends. I remember playing with Barbie’s, coloring, and creating art projects that my mother would judge and give prizes.
Now as I look around at our children, my friends, and myself all I see is humanity drowning in technology. And we wonder why we are not healthy and why we are not happy….true social connections have become about a computer or Facebook. Celebrating a birthday means receiving 400 messages on my Facebook page and maybe 1 phone call from my friend who actually makes the effort to call me instead of Facebook me.
It is a strange phenomenon and I wonder how we break free from the vicious cycle that seems to just suck us in until we are caught up in a technology sand storm that does not relent until we cannot feel as a normal human being feels. We become like machines, we become like the technology that we feed on every day.
And what does this have to do with health? With my health, with your health? It has everything to do with our mentality, our emotional connections, and our ability to breathe, to laugh, to play, and to be human.
Also, in all the longevity cultures that I have studied, daily physical activity was a huge part of their longevity secret. Some of the oldest Italian men lived as shepherds and walked miles every day. A lot of the oldest people in longevity cultures worked in their own gardens every day, weeding, planting, and maintaining the food that they would be eating.
If I think of a typical day in the life of an American, it would be: wake up to phone alarm, check text messages and message back, turn on computer and check email, eat breakfast, jump in the car and go to work, sit on a computer all day, jump in car and come home, eat dinner, watch TV, go to bed. Somewhere in the mix of things we may mow the lawn (with a riding lawn mower, or we will pay the kid down the block, or we will buy a fancy automatic mower that moves and mows on its own), we may get rid of snow using the following avenues (snow blower, pay the kid down the block, or a shovel)…the vast majority of people would shovel last and chose the other options first.
The funny thing is that most of us would work the gym into our schedule. We mow our lawn by sitting on a tractor that mows for us and then we rush off to the gym to fit in a workout or we complain that we don’t have time in our day to workout.
What if we found ways to fit in “working out” into our daily schedules? What if we found ways to move daily by making things harder instead of easier? Let’s sell the snow blower and invest in a back-friendly shovel and shovel instead of going to the gym. Or, let’s sell the riding law mower and buy a push mower and mow instead of going to the gym.
Most of the people in longevity cultures never owned a membership to a gym. In fact, if someone built a gym and tried to gain members, they would go bankrupt fast because the people in these longevity cultures would not understand the purpose of a gym for all the physical labor that they are doing day in and day out.
I know that the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” However, sometimes the Romans would die early for doing stupid things and if I want to plan to be healthy and live long, I may want to rebel against the “Roman” way of life and live an authentic life, caring for my physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.