Beginning with the dictionary definition as a starting point…
Health: n, the state of being free from illness or injury.
… which apparently the medical/insurance industry’s indebted toadies, squirming under the contradictory desires to serve their masters while milking the fools who naively vote their servants into the public trough, would rather see as a point of departure, busier than all the all the airfields, harbors, train and bus stations in the world combined, the way all sides obfuscate the very simple humanitarian question of, “who is responsible for health in the land of the free.”
I’ve been pretty good about keeping the actual machinations of politics out of my rants about the deeper problem of how individuals can be so eager to be served and so loath to actually be of service that we leave the care and maintenance of our most personal responsibilities and mutually beneficial welfare of our neighbors to mercenaries from afar and bitch about paying them. Oh, Yodood, you’re so extreme! Okay, I admit it. We aren’t that irresponsibly dependent or stingily selfish by our nature, but we certainly let the government convince us it’s the right way to live.
Dropping out of the grasp of western culture’s mythology has been more than a physical shedding of its stuff and the 24/7 pursuit thereof, more than discovering a more timeless, naturally spontaneous lifestyle, more than learning that what I have always called my “will” has been obeying the prime directives of my cell’s collective consciousness as they manipulate a natural path through the artificial hoops and cul de sacs of civilization. For me it has also been a growing extension of the realization that, at the age of thirty-four, I had never fed my body or considered its nutrition to be more than satisfying my taste buds.
I’ve gotten to know my body pretty well over the years since feeding myself became my most primal responsibility as a being who desires to remain alive and able to follow the interests of my curiosity. A large part of the nature I am learning to observe, if not all, is the machinations of perception flavoring every experience with memories of other instances in an ongoing internal dialogue ready to report who, where and when I am; a practice so well instilled by public education and four years of marines. Beneath that dialogue are the the tangs of taste buds and the pangs of pained cells signaling more than need of habitual soothing; they’re hints at a remedy to be applied. All metabolisms are different, there are no panaceas to replace familiarity with the territory to which we all have as intimate an access as we wish. All too many leave such care and feeding to people in white aprons behind masks and fast serve counters of pharmacists and fry cooks.
When my wife, a hypochondriac registered nurse, took her sanitized world elsewhere, I was faced with an empty plate and no thermometer. Over the past thirty-six years I have learned to feed myself the foods my body tells me it needs to remain healthy without the crutch of the “health care industry.” Mid-2004, I went beyond feeding myself to growing the food to complete the life cycle of symbiotic responsibility as my waste feeds my food through composting.
My interest in Buddhism led me to the eastern philosophy of health and its profound sanity in considering prevention of disease far more fundamental than the forensic pathology of the west, that sends you home until you’re are sick enough to treat or afraid enough to gouge. The chi or kundalini system of the body, through which an immaterial regulatory energy flows, maintains its healthy balance just as the more material nervous system maintains its communications. Until the East met the West it did not know the intrusion of surgery. Acupuncture, Tai Chi and massage all treat the chakras and their networking as indispensible to health but are in turn treated by the AMA as fundamentalist Christians do other gods; as pseudoscience. In eastern health traditions doctors were forbade charging fees for their gift of compassionate understanding of the health of the body, but their willingness to share it made them the most revered and wealthy in their communities from the donations by the grateful.
I am not saying that because I haven’t seen a doctor in almost four decades I think everyone should boycott them. I just think it is worth considering retaking personal responsibility for our health far beyond taking antacid tabs while waiting in an exhaust choked waiting line at one of the millions of fast-food industry anuses that keep this great fat country going — coughing to hell. It is the same responsibility one must assume for daily behavior should one forego the ritualized accident, home, theft, health insurance guaranteeing that: no matter how irresponsibly we behave in the present (the only place we ever are), if we pay someone enough money in the past, our future recovery or death will make someone undeservedly rich off our carelessness — and perhaps our health will be covered — just like Zantacs at Jack in the Box. Taking drugs to ward off the results of ignorance is not the kind of prevention I’m talking about. Focus in the present needs or can benefit from no other insurance.
I realize there are wide variations in individual beings' ability to survive life on earth to the extent that, save the compassion of loved ones and/or the Hippocratic oath, they would live a life of pain or die. The whole while mankind has been building and clunking into the walls of western civilization, it has evolved a sense of empathy for fellow, clueless victims of the unfathomably ridiculous myth that nature is to be conquered, driven from the wilderness and sold on the block. It is what civilized people do to themselves, as they train their offspring out of their natural curiosity into a life of labor maintaining the walls, and force on others, as they replace natives’ jungle encampments with malls and move them to the brand new slums at the fringes of the brand new city. We are sicker from the system’s poisons and machines to isolate us from it than nature has ever made us.
As my body ages and my daily routine becomes more meditative than spontaneous I feel the feebles creep into my balance, strength, hearing and sight and I think to perhaps not throw away the mailer from Medicare next time. I pay for it. Or so it says on my annual statements from Social Security. They tell me I could opt out; and I would but for the idea that my unused portion goes to benefit the common medical access; the kindest gesture I’ve found in government anywhere. That we limit such efficient altruistic concerns to the aged while the general population pumps enough money into private industry’s pre-existing bean counters to pay for free, unqualified health care for everyone within our borders several times over is hand in glove with legislation protecting the polluting industries that cause ill health to begin with.
But the western health industry isn’t too much into prevention when the wreck, the war, the expedience is so much more profitable.