I tend to keep quiet about my the way I eat and live my life because it isn’t open for debate. Don’t get me wrong. My favorite subject to talk about it is me, but only when the conversation centers around my awesomeness or even my many similarities to the winners of People Magazine’s Top 100 Sexiest Men. However, when the discussion turns dark, and it is implied either verbally or with a slightly raised eyebrow at the wrong moment, that I might be wrong about something, all conversation must end. I refuse to waste time arguing with people who don’t even have the good sense to agree with me.
Generally speaking, the people in my life that are aware of my lifestyle change are incredibly supportive. Almost three months ago now, when transitioning from carnivore to herbivore, I was worried that friends and coworkers and distant relatives might pelt me with the standard myths that meat eaters believe. Instead I ran into a hailstorm of love and support. Basically, I seem to surround myself with awesome, nurturing people who are unconditionally happy for my happiness. I highly recommend you try it.
There have been a few good natured barbs from some of the carnivores I used to Bar-B-Q lunch with, but nothing that I wouldn’t have dished out myself if I were in their place. I mean, c’mon, its too easy. Agave nectar? Really? And millet? I can’t help but mock myself sometimes.
So when a Facebook friend I hadn’t seen since the Regan years asked me if I was having a midlife crisis, I did a double take. I scanned the message for sarcasm, hidden jokes, a smiling emoticon, or even a lowercase lol, but it seemed like a genuine question. It was the face to face equivalent of two raised eye brows and a look of disdain. Oh, snap.
A midlife crisis is one of the greatest fears of someone my age. The word crisis is bad enough, but when you start throwing around words like midlife, it can get a little ugly. So I gave it some thought.
As it happens, my old friend was right in a manner of speaking. My drastic life change was a result of a midlife crisis of sorts. The crisis was that my estimated midlife, as a fat American, was about fifteen years ago during the late 90s. I had been busily eating myself into an early grave and I hadn’t even had a proper midlife crisis when I turned 27.
As my health and vitality return, so does the promise of a much postponed midlife crisis. This new plant based life offers the hope of seeing triple digits, even for the former kings of cholesterol. That means I might not need a new red sports car for another ten years. I could put off kayaking the length of the Mississippi for another twelve years. I don’t need to start freeze drying my meals for the 6 month hike on the Appalachian Trail until the Roaring 20’s. This is great news because it allows me to be much more selective in the way that I am going to enjoy my future midlife crisis.
For the record, I have been knocking on wood while discussing my longevity. There is no guarantee that any way of life will give you more time on Earth. As my middle school PE teacher was fond of reminding us for no reason in particular: “Life is choices, if you choose to cross the road you might get hit by a bus.”
I never understood the context or why he’d yell it at us while we ran laps, but the lesson remained with me: you could get hit with a bus. You could get hit with a meteor. You could fall into a volcano. You could get poisoned by the Mississippi. You could get eaten by bears on the Appalachian Trail.
There are no guarantees, but there are odds and statistics. I am a very good poker player. During tournament play, I can exploit the weak while waiting to attack strong. I can calculate the pot odds versus the implied odds on a particular hand of Texas Hold’Em before the dealers hand is done felting the cards. I’m a cross between Alexander the Great and Rainman.
I have seen enough statistical anomalies at the poker table to know that even the safest bets are beatable… but that does not mean it happens often. Poker and life require the bravery to make the best choices you can, knowing that at any moment the deck may turn against you in any number of ways. Is this any reason to give up and not play? Is this any reason to make bad choices since we all go broke in the end anyway?
Those were meant to be rhetorical, but I can’t stop myself from answering. NO!
Eating and crossing the street and walking next to volcanoes is what this game of life is all about. Choosing to give up on life out of fear is certainly easy and can even seem delicious when standing at the buffet blissfully unaware that your midlife has come and gone without a decent crisis. However, I am choosing to play this game with the same intensity that I attack an all day poker tournament- I am playing to win.