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Clichés

I hate clichés. They are a lazy person’s way to have, and end, a conversation. There are so many problems with clichés. Take for example some popular ones on health and wellness:

·         A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety (Aesop – Fables): Is the crust whole wheat? Is it gluten-free? Was the banquet vegan, lacto-ovo, kosher, halal, low-purine, high-fiber, or just your mainstream artery-clogging, cholesterol-enhancing, BMI-busting, cardiac-arresting fare? Details please.

·         Early to bed, early to rise, makes a person healthy, wealthy, and wise: This quote does not tell you anything useful, such as when exactly to go to bed, what time zone we are talking about, how do you define wealthy and how to account for inflation since Ben Franklin coined the phrase. We scientists need more specifics than generalities.

·         I believe God allows us to make U-turns in life (Mormon website): Does that rule apply across all states? I don’t think God visited Miami lately. If I tried to make some U-turns in Miami I’d get killed.

·         The man who doesn’t relax and hoot a few hoots voluntarily, now and then, is in great danger of hooting hoots standing on his head for the edification of the pathologist and trained nurse a little later on (Elbert Hubbard). I know Mr. Hubbard was a great American philosopher, writer, artist and all that, but frankly, I don’t give a hoot.

And then there are people who are not satisfied with existing clichés but invent their own. A relative’s friend recently passed away. The deceased weighed 418 lbs, smoked like a chimney, never exercised in his life, invented Type A personality, ate like there was no tomorrow, and one night, surprise surprise, dropped dead at a young age. Talking to my relative about the untimely dead of his friend he said: “it’s all luck in life.”

When I make the stupid mistake of talking to people about health and the importance of proper nutrition, physical activity, and sleep, they often tell me “we all die in the end.” Alternatively, they tell me that “you have to enjoy life” or “it won’t kill you to go wild once in a while.” The latter is usually accompanied by some story about a distant relative who ate seven eggs for breakfast, butter-roasted pig with a two gallon regular coke for lunch, and French fries with melted provolone and a bucket of whole milk ice cream for dinner, and lived to be 102. At this point in my writing many readers begin to feel defensive, so let me drop the subject right now because “better a carnivore reader in hand than a thousand in a vegan market.”

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