Just 'Cuz it's Common Doesn't Make it Ok

When my mom was a kid in New Rochelle one of her friends’ fathers used to go running around the neighborhood after work. He’d just run… for no reason at all. “Where the hell was he going?” everyone thought. What is he, out of his mind? Who just runs? Nobody else was ever seen running or sweating for any reason beyond suffering with the flu or menopausal hot flashes, which were also less common during an era of lesser stress and better food.

Many years later we see who was out of their minds.

The inability to not think outside the box is not only an inability to think outside the box, but also an inability to think at all. There are things about the status quo that most of us agree on: Saying please and thank you, showering everyday, regularly exercising (now that we’ve all caught up to mom’s old friend). Most other things might bring up debate from minority and more radical groups. For example, as an acupuncturist I encourage my patients to eat cooked green vegetables or yams for breakfast with their eggs (or some kind of protein), and some look at me like I’m crazy. “Sweet potatoes? For breakfast?!”

But what is so crazy? First of all, hash browns have been a staple sibling to eggs for many generations – so what would be so radical about simply transforming those white potatoes into their healthier version? Secondly, from a Chinese Medical perspective the fact that most Americans begin their days either with cold cereal and dairy, cold, sugary yogurt, white flour (in the form of bagels), or nothing at all might account for the ubiquitous pro-inflammatory state of our nation. Things like sweet potatoes we consider to be more of a dinner food, however this brings up another moronic American custom that runs diametrically opposite all rules of science: saving the biggest meal for last of the day, when the body’s metabolic energy and insulin sensitivity are at their lowest.

Personally, I used to cook yams every morning, until I decided to limit my carb intake by limiting them to when they are in season (as another contemporary crime of modern farming that wreaks havoc on our organs is eating foods that are not intrinsic to when and where we are). From eggs and yams I seamlessly segued to eggs and cooked greens, which IMO is a great way of beginning one’s day by checking off part of the advised green intake.

It requires discernment to recognize when the status quo are incorrect, as if there is one thing history has taught us it’s that they are always wrong about something. It wasn’t so long ago that inter-racial couples were socially unaccepted. Opioids were encouraged for decades after cigarettes stopped being, and you barely have to go back a decade to watch TV without seeing any ads warning against the dangers of sugary soda. The question should be always in our minds: Who are the new inter-racial couples? What are the new opioids, cigarettes and sugar? Is it statin medications, coffee, television and bread? Is it the acceptability of plastic, microwaves, inorganic meats, alcohol, long work hours, short rest hours, or the lack of time people have to see and spend with friends? All of the above? When did we ruin the world? The answer is gradually, under everyone’s radar, the same way disease develops in the body. This is why we should always be questioning, lest we fall victim to becoming another statistic under the heading of the first world nation that leads the world in Depression, gun violence, cancer and autoimmune disease. This is not bad luck.

My advice is to eat more greens. Investigate the diets of other cultures that are less ill than ours. Spend more time with friends and less time at work or your phone. Try to identify what foods/drinks are not serving you without waiting for NBC to tell you. A good rule of thumb to be aware of is if you’re first hearing of a trend or discovery from TV you’re way behind. Go for a run around the neighborhood, or better yet do Qi Gong in the park, as we are the new weirdoes, the new runners that so few understand.

We are all victims of the human condition, yet none of us are entirely victims, especially those who define themselves as such. If we are here we hold power. If we are here we hold agency, as this is intrinsic to existence, even for a cockroach. The dichotomy of the human condition is the willpower to change and free will to choose: How, at what pace and via which steps. Like every generation the older generation has bestowed us with some incredible gifts. They’ve also left us with some incredible burdens, exemplified nowhere better than in the healthcare environment and literal environment. Listen to your parents, sure, but not always, as life experience should be measured as much in quality as it is in quantity.

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