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On Longevity

By Fergal Smiddy

Never in my life, up until now, have I ever have even contemplated engaging in a behaviour as perverted as booking a physio appointment just to have a reason to leave my house.

Just to leave my house might be stretching things a bit. Although the cabin fever most definitely spurred my enthusiasm in picking up the phone, I have been dealing with shoulder pain – sporadic but nigglingly persistent – for the better part of the last three years. It’s a direct result of weight training, and most likely rooted in my early days at the gym as a late teen, when my enthusiasm far outweighed my knowledge and the concept of longevity was not something I yet had the burden of understanding.

Even at twenty-two, talking about physical longevity feels like talking about coal reserves having just put a steamship to sea. My body’s barely done fusing itself together to full growth – why should I even be thinking about its decline? Well, because big journeys rarely go to plan. Steamships hit icebergs, and our bodies are just as vulnerable. Thinking about your longterm wellbeing isn’t frenzied hypochondria; it’s a valid and conscientious approach to living that epitomises the notion – and arguable main-character-culture zeitgeist – of self care.

The last way I want to come across is preachy. Longevity, in both its physical and  mental application, is something that the student demographic isn’t exactly renowned for. If we’re being honest, many aspects of the generalised student lifestyle could be seen as taking the concept of longevity and burying it in a mound of empty cans and fag butts. I’m not even close to an exception, and my moderate stress-abating rollie intake would suggest that I’m probably not qualified to be writing on this subject at all. But, here I am, rollie in hand; and there you are, can to your lips – the issue of longevity hangs over us nonetheless.

Our youth is on our side in this instance, but it also doesn’t do us any favours. Even in activities that would typically be beneficial to longevity – like mental health regimes and physical exercise – we often take the fast and hard approach. Closely timed 5k runs and gruelling gym sessions take priority over recovery protocols and stretching; psychedelic drugs and performative positivity offer a more exciting path to ‘enlightenment’ than the forging of healthy relationships.

Living your life in a measured, longevity-oriented way just isn’t very punk rock. However, there’s an undoubtable level of joy to be found in it – you may get lamped by an iceberg somewhere along the way, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t make plans for docking.