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Further From Death

[caption id="attachment_3069" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Don't let his cuteness fool you. Don't let his cuteness fool you.[/caption] My favorite book of all time (OF ALL TIME) is Catch-22. If you haven’t read it then stop everything and go do that. I’ll see you in like two weeks. Welcome back. Pretty great book, right? What, you spent the last fortnight finishing Gossip Girl on Netflix? Ok fine, I really want to make this point so I’ll just give you the background. Catch-22 is a morbidly hilarious satire set during World War 2 featuring a group of bomber pilots with a dim view of their lifespans. The most morose of them is Dunbar, who seeks to prolong the small amount of life he has left by making it as miserable as possible. In one scene he’s talking to the idealistic Clevenger - in his 20s – and calls him old. Clevenger protests and Dunbar says, “You’re inches away from death every time you go on a mission. How much older can you be at your age?” Ok, so it’s not the most optimistic book, but Dunbar’s statement here is incredibly profound: How old you are isn’t just how long it’s been since you’ve been born, it’s also how close you are to death. “Thanks Ken,” you say, “Now I have to worry that I’m old even before I’m old.” But as usual, I take the optimistic path. Aside from the fact that we all march inexorably towards our deaths, I think Dunbar’s perspective gives us hope. Because if you take actions to push back that date you are in a very real way getting younger. If you eat an apple instead of dessert, if you take the stairs instead of the elevator, if you come in and train instead of slumping on the couch watching Pawn Star reruns, you extending your life, pushing back that inevitability by a minute, an hour, a day. So turn Dunbar’s pessimism into motivation, because ever night you might be a day further from birth, but you don’t have to go to sleep a day older.

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