The End is Nigh.. Or Not.. Who Knows?
Posted by Exile on February 27, 2009
I met an anti smoker today while I was out with the dogs. I meet them, I suppose, every day, but this one gave me some astonishing news.
"That will kill you." she said.
"What?" I replied.
"Smoking. It will kill you." I drew on my pipe, hard and long, and blew smoke at her.
"How?" I asked.
"It will kill you. It shortens your life."
"I see." I said. "So if I didn’t smoke, I would live for ever?"
"No. But you won’t live as long as you should."
"And how long should I live? I asked. "Tell me, when am I going to die?"
"I don’t know."
"Then how can you state that I am going to live longer, or shorter, than something that you know nothing of?" I was getting ready for the usual tirade. "Do you know how I am going to die?"
"No" She said.
"Then how can you be sure that smoking my pipe will shorten my life? Will the bus that is destined to run me over be early that day because I smoke? See, I’d love to know when and how I will die. Then I can make some real plans as to how I am going to spend the rest of my time here. Until then, I’ll just enjoy what I can, while I can. Which includes smoking my pipe."
"But it’s bad for you."
"Really? Then explain to me why pipe smokers appear to live longer than their non smoking contemporaries. Why is the percentage higher among non smokers than smokers where Alzheimers is concerned? Why are pipe smokers generally less troubled by these so called stress related diseases? And while we’re about it, show me one death certificate that states cause of death as being "Smoking". There isn’t one. People do not die from smoking. They die of diseases that may be aggravated by it, but the disease itself is the killer. Or was none of that mentioned in the last piece of so called hard evidence that you read and draw your conclusions from? My thanks for your concern Madame, but it really is wasted here."
I called the dogs to me and walked off leaving her to consider my argument. If we were all given a set number of days to live then I could understand any math involved. But we aren’t. We are not guaranteed a certain length of life. So how can anybody be sure that anything we do will lengthen or shorten our time on this earth? We do not all die of old age. Some of us die in traffic, accidents at work, war, natural disasters. So even the manner of our demise is not guaranteed and is unknown to us. To assume then, that my life will be shortened or not by any activity I choose to indulge in is purely hypothetical as there is no end point to measure backwards from. Mountaineering is equally as potentially dangerous. So is hang gliding. Driving. Or even just going to work and back each day. Working for fifty years will damage your health. You don’t see any feckin’ government health warnings there though, do you?
Life is ultimately only terminable. I will die one day. That is inevitable. I am not worried about it, because once it is done with, I will know nothing about it. Unfortunately, I do not have a "Due by" date stamped on my arse. On the other hand, if I was to spend the rest of my days worrying about it, it would be a pretty miserable life anyway.
I want quality while I can get it. Not quantity at any price.